Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions


Marines return home after Operation Alaskan Road
Story by Cpl. Dave Boni


October 06, 2003
Monday - 12:55 am

Camp Wy Wuh - Annette Island, Alaska - Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 departed Operation Alaskan Road Sept. 12 after a two and a half week deployment on Annette Island.

The Marines were participating in a joint military and community based project, which was started in 1998 in hopes to construct a 14.5-mile, two-lane gravel road that would be a part of a transportation link between the Metlakatlan and Ketchikan road systems. Travel from the Annette Island road system to the Revilla Island road system will be completed by ferry.

Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 wrapped up operations in Alaska, Sept 12.
The Marines participated in the construction of a 14.5 mile road.
Photo by: Cpl. Dave Boni

During their stay in Alaska, MWSS-171 joined the ranks of Joint Forces Engineer Component Command in its endeavor to complete the road by its projected date of 2007.

"This operation provided a great training environment for the Marines involved," said 2nd Lt. James Lagasca, MWSS-171 detachment officer- in-charge. "The Marines conducted horizontal construction, road construction and installation of culverts, all of which will better their proficiency in their jobs."

The deployment offered many firsts for the 171 Marines as they utilized all of the assets afforded to them.

"We learned so many different systems from the other services and I know much of the equipment used was for the first time by some of the Marines," said Pfc. Joe Burnett, MWSS-171 drafting and surveyor.

According to Chief Warrant Officer Marlon Porche, MWSS-171 Heavy Equipment platoon commander, cross training and demolitions were the highs for the operation.

"The different echelons of training gave the Marines a great opportunity to learn and improve on skills they either already knew or never thought they would learn. The overall structure of the operation could have been better, but Marines always adapt and overcome," he said.

Another downfall for the Marines participating in OAR was the weather. Torrential rain and cold wind pelted and whipped around the Marines as they worked. With the operation involving road construction, the weather caused many delays.

"The weather was tough to deal with. When we were working at the culvert site we couldn't do much until we got all the water out of there and it's hard to get water out when it keeps on raining," said Burnett.

But just like their platoon commander said, the Marines "adapted and overcame" and accomplished the job put in front of them.

For Porche the highlight of the training exercise was just seeing his Marines faces as well as the faces of the other service members.

"My Marines motivate the heck out of me and they performed great out here. I saw the other service members just stop and watch the Marines work and I think they were in shock," he said proudly. "The Marines came here with the desire to leave their mark and show just what MWSS-171 Marines could do and they did that and more."


Source of News Release & Photograph:

United States Marine Corps
Web Site


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Ketchikan, Alaska