Photo Information

An M1A1 Abrams tank with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, crosses a medium girder bridge constructed by Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 24, 2015. The bridge is designed to hold up to the weight of a tank, approximately 72 tons, and is an essential component in providing the Marine Expeditionary Forces with increased mobility.

Photo by Cpl. Michelle Reif

Lejeune’s Bridge Company successfully tests bridge using M1A1 Abrams tanks

28 Jul 2015 | Lance Cpl. Fatmeh Saad II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion teamed up with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, to perform a medium girder bridge crossing aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 24, 2015.

MGBs are used for dry and wet gap crossings and can be quickly constructed without the use of machinery, increasing mobility, saving ground units’ time and minimizing danger by decreasing the travel distance.

“The bridge itself is designed to cross a tank, that’s the heaviest vehicle it can carry,” said 1st Lt. Anthony L. Puopolo, platoon commander of MGB platoon. “In order to provide mobility to our units, it’s important that we become proficient in placing these bridges.”

They swept and set up security to simulate a combat environment to help maintain a tactical mindset.

“Ideally, the bridge takes about one hour to construct, but since this was a training exercise and it’s not something we do often, we spent about four hours constructing the bridge, which helped our Marines gain a deeper understanding of what [they were] doing,” said Sgt. Joshua S Tisdale, the bridge master with Bridge Company.

Tisdale said this was the first time both units have performed this type of crossing in years. The two units worked together to ensure all safety precautions were met.

“It’s a new experience for me and my Marines because we’ve never crossed a bridge like this,” said Sgt. Tyler S. Jones, a tank commander with 2nd Tanks. “Any opportunity we have to increase the training value of an exercise, we’re going to take it.” 

2nd Tanks tested the bridge using the M1A1 Abrams, a 72-ton main battle tank, by performing several successful crossings, with intervals of rest in between for safety checks. The combined weight of the tank tested the durability and strength of the bridge.

“Our primary mission is almost that of an infantry platoon, to close with and destroy the enemy,” said Jones. “If we are out on a mission and there is an obstacle we can’t get over, we call the engineers to help us get through it.”

Puopolo wants his Marines to see the fruits of their labor, which is part of why they wanted to test the bridge with tanks. The exercise provided Marines of both units a deeper understanding of the complexities and requirements of bridge crossings.

“In the area of the world that we’re in right now, we see a stronger need for the medium girder bridge and dry-gap crossing,” said Capt. Ashley B. Christman, company commander of Bridge Company. “I tell my Marines that the one thing they need to remember if someone asks them what bridge company does is not that we just build bridges, but we assure mobility to the entire [Marine Expeditionary Force]. That’s what we exist for.”