MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Aug. 11, 2014 – On an uncomfortably hot day in the Mojave Desert, many service members participating in Large Scale Exercise 2014 were preparing for the day to end.A gear tree is for storing body armor and a helmet. The bilateral training is building U.S. and Canadian forces’ joint capabilities. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Serna But one Marine decided it was the perfect weather to bring out his tools and some spare wood to create something from scraps of nothing. Cpl. Tanner Lechner, a combat engineer with Combat Service Support Company, 1st Brigade Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said he enjoys his time out in the field regardless of the weather, because he gets to practice and improve his construction and creativity skills. Before he joined the Marine Corps, Lechner lived in Topeka, Kansas, up to his early adulthood. After high school, he said, he wanted to take charge of his life and do something he enjoys.
His life-changing decision was inspired by his grandfather, who retired as a captain from the Marine Corps, Lechner said. His grandfather’s stories of his career motivated him to the point that he decided to join the Marine Corps in 2011, he added. “I picked combat engineer as my [specialty] when I joined,” the 21-year-old Marine said. “It wasn’t my first choice, but I couldn’t do reconnaissance, because I was color blind. My recruiter mentioned to me, ‘As a combat engineer, you’ll get to build things and blow stuff up,’ so I said, ‘Yeah! Put me there.’” After graduating from recruit training and his specialty school, Lechner said, he moved on to the operational forces, which gave him the opportunity to deploy and conduct his job. “We made what [we] would call a ‘triple-nickel 40’ out of cratering charges on a partially dry lake bed in the Philippines,” he said. “When this thing went off, it made this massive crater, and all of the water that was underground came rushing in. It instantly filled with water, and we were like, ‘Hey, we made a big pond.’”