PUERTO CASTILLA, Honduras — Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command’s engineer teams worked on horizontal construction projects alongside Honduran engineers at Puerto Castilla, Honduras, June 23-July 1.

The Marines worked side by side with their Honduran counterparts on different construction and restoration projects, and shared knowledge and experience on techniques including maintenance and operation of heavy equipment.

Creating a mark in history, the joint operations symbolized the first time U.S Marine engineers and Honduran engineers have ever worked together. However, in order to establish an efficient partnership between both counterparts, certain obstacles, such as work experiences and cultural and language barriers, had to be overcome.

“There was definitely an element of enthusiasm within our Marine Corps engineers and the Honduran engineers,” said U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Calvin Gatch, engineer equipment officer with SPMAGTF-SC. “Even though there were a few barriers present, they were broken down by the facial expressions, gestures and the desire both parts have to be here and to work alongside each other. We may not be able to communicate perfectly, but our enthusiasm speaks for the lack of translation.”

The first day the engineers worked together was focused on integration. The partners established safety precautions and introduced gear and heavy equipment that would be used. The following day consisted of periods of instructions given by the Marines on basic heavy equipment operations.

Although many of the machines were familiar to the Honduran engineers, most of the models used by the Marine Corps had a few small differences. The lack of experience with the different equipment was vastly overwhelmed by the Hondurans curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

“The first day we met the Honduran engineers, we were very pleased with their knowledge level and the experience they brought to the table,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth E. McNulty, engineer chief with SPMAGTF-SC. “They asked us numerous technical questions about our equipment such as tracks tension, grease points and maintenance procedures and schedules. Some of their questions definitely caught us off guard.”

Honduran and Marine engineers will work together throughout the next several months on engineering projects in Honduras, to include the construction of a school and renovations to a medical facility in the Gracias a Dios region of Honduras. These projects represent a perfect opportunity for Marines to work with their Honduran counterparts and to build upon and strengthen existing relationships between the two forces.

“The greatest thing about this SPMAGTF is the relationships we are building with our partner and host nation,” said Gatch. “We have been on the ground for a little more than a week and we are already working side by side with Honduran engineers, sharing our experiences, pushing dirt, clearing old roads and creating new pathways.”

Within a couple days of working and interacting together, a solid cohesion was built between the two sides. Honduran and American engineers shared experiences and work knowledge amongst themselves, as well as the hardships and satisfaction from a hard day of work. Group photos were taken, jokes told, memories made and friendships created. At the end of the day, a solid first step toward a long and prosperous relationship between U.S Marines and Hondurans was taken with a steel-toed boot.