8MCD logistics Marines ease the transition from the Crescent City to the Metroplex
Relying on the logistics section is a necessity when a unit-wide movement takes place. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the 8th Marine Corps District’s logistics branch has been a stabilizing force in an otherwise rocky situation while the district moves from New Orleans to Texas.
After the storm, members of the district headquarters converged in a Dallas hotel and two local recruiting stations where they, along with their families, lived and worked for five months. Although the district had planned a move to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in 2007 under Base Realignment and Closure, the unit received permission to permanently relocate almost two years in advance.
“The focus has been on relocating the district while taking care of our families and continuing our mission of supporting the recruiting stations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Edward Harper, the district’s logistics chief and Cincinnati, Ohio native.
Since September 2005, the logistics Marines and civilians have been working to get the new building up and running so the district personnel can work under one roof again.
“Being in a centralized location, we will be able to walk and talk about our different ideas,” Harper said. “We will be able to get back to a routine.”
With it’s sections spread throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, bringing the district together will make everyone’s job easier, according to Harper.
“We are the executers of the move,” said Maj. Delaney Williams, 8th Marine Corps District logistics officer and Hampton, Va., native. “The attitudes and determination have made this move so successful. People buckled down and rolled up their sleeves to get the job done.”
To make this move possible, the logistics Marines are working with civic organizations and civilian contractors to ensure the new building is ready for the re-establishment ceremony on January 27.
“Accomplishing this is more than a reflection of our Marines, but on the civilian contractors who understood our sense of urgency and our goals,” said Williams. “Along with those organizations, the Army Corps of Engineers was instrumental with this project. They understood our mission and knew what sort of requirements we had for our building and helped us find our new headquarters.”
Before the move could take place, the logistics branch had to ensure there were no loose ends in the districts original home aboard Naval Support Activity West Bank, New Orleans. One member of the logistics team, Mike Dunham, remained in New Orleans until earlier this month to do just that.
“We specifically kept (Dunham) back to keep an eye on our equipment and building,” said Williams. “He coordinated the move and prepared the building for turnover. We referred to him as the district rear party. He did a great job and he did it individually.”
Dunham, the districts facilities manager and retired Marine Corps major, returned to the ravaged city and stayed with the old headquarters building after everyone else had evacuated.
“I came back three days after the hurricane,” said Dunham. “The whole area was a disaster. My biggest issue at first was security for our building. I worked with the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, who had been using the upstairs of our building, to help move everything we could into rooms that I had keys to. After a week I finally had all of the master keys and total security of our building.”
Shortly after Dunham’s return to New Orleans that Marine Forces Reserve, also headquartered in New Orleans, asked to use the buildings’ office spaces to continue their relief operations.
“I talked to our commanding officer and he told me to extend them every professional courtesy possible,” Dunham said. “So we used our old desks and started setting up a work area for them while still trying to get the facility back to normal.”
Thirty days after the hurricane, Dunham had the entire building in full operation, began preparing the items in the building for inventory and later shipment to the district’s new home in Fort Worth, Texas.
“By then I assumed we would be leaving and began teaching MARFORRES’ facilities personnel how to up keep the building,” said Dunham. “Everything from knowing where every light switch is to regulating the heating and air conditioning had to be taught before I left.”
In early January, Dunham began organizing the move of all of the district headquarters’ gear to Texas.
After packing was complete, Dunham over saw the securing and moving of more than 100,000 pounds of freight.
Additionally, Dunham also ensured district Marines returning to New Orleans to work on their damaged homes were taken care of.
“I only do what I expect others to do,” Dunham explained. “I made sure there was food, water and place to stay if they needed it.”
Moving an entire district headquarters has brought on many rewarding challenges for the logistics branch. From managing all of the different contracts and laying out the building so that each office can work effectively and efficiently, the logistics branch has taken each test in stride.
“At times we had 12 different contracts at once,” Williams said. “Normally it would take six or seven months to move into a new building like this. We have been able to do it in half the time.”
With the final touches being completed at the new district headquarters, the Marines are beginning to see a finished product after months of cramped working conditions and the challenges of being separated in three different locations.
“This move has been a total success story for 8th Marine Corps District,” said Williams. “All of the Marines have been through a lot in the last four months. All of us have been able to get this transition completed and still support the recruiting stations 100 percent.”