CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- Marines are known for their dedication to duty and hard work, completing the mission no matter what it takes.
Take an 11-man team working in temperatures rising above 100 degrees, put them in charge of maintaining hundreds of vehicles, and watch them produce much more than sweat and greasy hands at the end of the day.
Mechanics from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, work around the clock to keep hundreds of vehicles ready to support the battalion’s mission of combating the insurgency in and around Fallujah.
“The work is non-stop, but whether these Marines realize it or not, they are doing their part in saving peoples lives out there,” said Sgt. Steven J. Lariviere, the quality control chief of the motor transportation’s mechanic section.
The men working in the tool ridden garage start their days early and often end up working into the next day. There is little time for relaxing, working to maintain an average of 33 vehicles per week.
“We keep the battalion rolling,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin T. Chambers, a mechanic from Tewksbury, Mass. “It’s nice knowing that the Marines will be much safer out there because of the hard work that we do here.”
Oil changes, complete suspension rebuilds, or even custom fabrication, the Marines do it all.
“If you can think of it, we do it,” Lariviere explained. “In all of time I have been doing this job, I see vehicle problems out here that just blow my mind. But we get together, put our minds together, and figure it out.”
Each vehicle is required to undergo monthly, bi-annual and annual maintenance. The heavily armored trucks are completely refreshed with new fluids and undergo inspections on every component to ensure their reliability on the battlefield. But the scheduled repairs only make up a percentage of what rolls into the garage here.
After 14 weeks in Iraq, the mechanics have fixed 489 problems on the battalion’s multi-ton combat trucks, averaging roughly 44 solved issues per Marine.
“For example, we had a truck come in today that was here for its scheduled preventative maintenance,” said Lance Cpl. Eddie Moura, a 21 year-old mechanic, from Tulsa, Okla. “After going through it, we found a leak in the radiator. Something that small could mean big problems during a fight.
“The vehicle could overheat and stall on the Marines in the middle of the city, making them an instant target,” he pointed out. “We are here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
With grease covered clothes, oil stained and often bloody hands, from random screws and bolts under the hood, the Marines still go home with a smile on their faces.
“It will be seven months of non-stop repairs, but at the end of it all I know that we will be able to look back on it and say that it was worth it,” Moura said. “We came here to do a job and the Marines here are working their butts off to get it done.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better team of guys,” said Lariviere, 27, of Salem, Mass. “If I had to do it all over again, I would want to do it working along side of these eleven Marines.”
Now reaching the half-way point of the deployment, the Marines expect no change in pace for the days ahead. With will-power, hammers and screwdrivers, and knowing the importance of their mission, the mechanics look forward to the sure-to-come challenges.
“It’s tough, but it will pay off down the road,” 21-year-old Chambers said.