By Lance Cpl. Carsen Turner, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs
TRUJILLO, Honduras (NNS) -- U.S. Marines assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are participating in Southern Partnership Station-Joint High Speed Vessel 2015 (SPS-JHSV 15) as part of the Adaptive Force Package (AFP) from July to October in Honduras and Guatemala.
These engineers provide mechanical support for motor transportation, produce purified water and aid in the development of buildings.
SPS-JHSV 15 is an annual U.S. Navy deployment to the Caribbean, Central and South American countries, fostering a lasting relationship with the host nations by promoting and enhancing regional stability and security through the sharing of experiences.
Deputy Commander SPS-JHSV 15, Lt. Col. Rudy Quiles, assigned to 4th Civil Affairs Group in Miami, said the most natural partner for the Navy is the U.S. Marine Corps.
"SPS has always been a joint operation," said Quiles. "Marines bring a lot of reach on the shore and beyond the shore to conduct security cooperation and humanitarian assistance. It was very important from the Navy's perspective to demonstrate that the Marines could employ this great tool that is the JHSV."
The Navy enlisted the help of 32 Marines from Camp Lejeune to support the SPS-JHSV15 mission. The Marine detachment is comprised of combat engineers, water purification specialists and a motor transportation mechanic.
"The Marines provide more manpower, complimentary engineering skills, water production - which is an effort to address a core grievance of the population, and above all, the ability to create a bridge between SPS and Special Purpose- Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP- MAGTAF) Southern Command that is in the area permanently now," said Quiles.
"Those lines of communication between Marines from both units help bring resources, help bring other manpower and help bring air transportation capability to what SPS seeks to achieve."
Combat Engineer Sgt. Lore, assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, in Camp Lejeune is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the deployed Marines.
"We were involved in the Yolanda School Project, where we put in a new septic system, repaired the bathroom and put a concrete pad around their bathroom," said Lore. "At the Juan Ramone School, we replaced the roof on their bathroom, repaired some desks, put a finish on them, painted the bathroom and put a fence around the outside."
The Marines also aided in construction projects at Santa Fe High School and replaced the roof, painted the building and built a gazebo. Marines worked on a road culvert, creek bed excavation- making it wider and built a culvert for a bridge. Water Purification Specialists purified 5,000 gallons of water for the local community using their Lightweight Water Purification System (LWPS).
"The school projects not only gave the children attending the school better facilities, but provided a foundation for future generations to build upon," said Lore. "The road culvert helped stop the flooding of the local houses next to the bed creek. The water purification system gave the local community much needed fresh water."
Combat Engineer Lance Cpl. Eckman, also assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, has been in the Marine Corps for more than a year and is on his first deployment.
"For me, participating in the projects was very influential and hit home," said Eckman. "Being able to see the changes that it makes in the community - how happy it makes the kids, parents, teachers and everybody that was involved - made me feel really good and like I was actually doing my job as a Marine."
According to Eckman, at the closing ceremony for the projects he felt a sense of mission accomplishment, and saw the positive impact the deployment had on the community.
"I'd say this deployment is pretty awesome," said Eckman. "We have A/C, we have a tent, we have hot meals, and I'd say this is, for deployments, probably the best deployment that a Marine could get on."
The SPS-JHSV 15 mission continues to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. A group of Marines travelled to Puerto Lempira and Mocoron airfield, Honduras, their mission is to support SP-MAGTAF in similar projects.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet support U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.