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Sweathogs support parking lot expansion

By Sgt. Marcy Sanchez | | July 19, 2013

Thanks to a local squadron’s grueling efforts this week, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
will have more parking spaces at an on-base restaurant.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 supported the Air Station’s public works division by
assisting in the expansion of an existing parking lot at the base’s Subway restaurant, expanding
the parking lot to more than twice its size.
“We came out here to remove a tree stump and resurface the parking lot because it had
poor drainage,” said Sgt. Kristopher Blake, a heavy equipment operator with MWSS-273 and
project manager. “We’re cutting out the existing earth and refilling it with crushed asphalt
to create a more level surface for drainage as well as expanding the parking lot for Subway.”
“The problem they had here was they had just bare dirt, and it would make a mud pit
every time it rained,” said Ensign Enisio Dos Santos, the assistant public works officer for
the Air Station. “People would park around [the tree stump] and sometimes it damaged
vehicles, so to remove it was also a safety concern.”
Not only will the expansion project add additional parking to patrons of Subway and Afterburners
Recreational Facility, but it will also allow Marines with MWSS-273, also known
as The Sweathogs, to train with heavy equipment and their earth-moving capabilities.
“The junior Marines are getting great practice for dirt-moving operations,” said Blake, 27,
and a native of Naples, Fla. “It’s not too often when we get to do much dirt moving, so
when we do it’s great for them because they will get to learn more about heavy equipment
The capabilities learned from small projects such as a parking lot expansion are valuable
to the Sweathogs as those capabilities are applied in austere deployed environments such
as Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This kind of work is perfect practice for [deployed environments]; it has to be so precise
and perfect with existing slope for rain purposes,” said Blake, a veteran of three combat
deployments. “We did so many projects out there, [High Power Run Ups] (a platform used
to test engine capacities of aircraft) and dust abatement (a method of mitigating dust on
air fields).
While deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, MWSS-273 turned an entire airfield from moon
dust, a baby powder-fine sand that can be disastrous to aircraft, into hard concrete by performing
water compaction and applying ‘rhino snot,’ a nickname for Envirotac II, a glue-like
substance used to harden the earth, leading to the buildup of 12 helicopter pads creating a
flight line approximately 30 acres in area on top of a mountain, said Blake.
In garrison, the Sweathogs work closely with public works to minimize costs for construction
projects aboard the Air Station.
“They are a good asset, whenever we have projects like this they’re the first ones on our
list,” said Dos Santos, a native of Miami. “We try to use them as much as we can whenever
we have anything beneficial for them. All we provide is the material; they provide the labor,
equipment and knowledge.”
According to an article from Northwestern University, it costs an average of $4,000 per
space to build surface parking lots. The new parking lot at Subway will provide an estimated
eight parking spaces meaning the squadron will save the Marine Corps about $32,000
in construction costs.
“It’s saving the Marine Corps money by letting us do it instead of having contractors come
in and do the job,” said Blake.
The Marines of MWSS-273 have participated in multiple training exercises this year improving
quality of life for families aboard Laurel Bay Housing Community, as well as improving
grounds aboard the Air Station and assisting in cleaning up large debris at local
beaches in Beaufort County.
MWSS-273 is slated to deploy to the Middle East in the near future to support and promote
security in the region.