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Bus line makes Marines mobile in western Iraq

6 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

Getting around at this sprawling western Marine camp got a little easier for Marines at Regimental Combat Team 7.

A new bus system was started to keep Marines from traveling miles on foot to do daily chores such as laundry.

"The buses started up about two months ago," said Cpl. Rockey L. Crump, a bus driver with Marine Aircraft Group 16.  "I think the Marines here realized there was a big need for them.  Not everyone has access to a humvee and the place is just too big and hot to be traveling by foot."

Crump, an experienced bus driver from Cartersville, Ga., helped with getting the system started.  He, along with a few other Marines, taught nearly 30 Marines how to operate a large bus.  The course now is a three-day event taught by Navy Seabees.

According to Sgt. Jason M. Goodwin, a technician with Combat Service Support Battalion 7 from Alamogordo, N.M., Marines are assigned by their units drive the base buses.  Extra duty is a four hour-long shift for normally no more than thirty days.

"I really enjoy doing this," said Goodwin, a base bus driver.  "I do get to meet friendly people everyday and I know I'm helping out my Marines.  It's also a nice change from what I normally do."

The three buses run about every thirty minutes.  A normal route for the drivers consists of over a dozen stops in a four-hour period.  The drivers go in opposite directions to help make the process quicker.

"I kept track the other day," Goodwin said.  "We go over 120 miles every four hours."

The 10-man bus driving crew takes it even a step further by volunteering to work extra late shifts on the weekends.  Popular stops include shuttling Marines back and forth to various Moral Recreation and Welfare events throughout the base.

"I think most of us like what we do," Goodwin said.  "None of us have many luxuries out here, so providing a bit of a morale booster is good for the Marines."

The little luxury isn't lost on any of the Marines riding the bus.

"I know they don't have to do this," said Lance Cpl. Jose L. Gomez, a Burbank, Ill. Marine assigned to RCT-7's Headquarters Company.  "It's too hot to be walking.  It's great knowing I can rely on the buses to get me where I need to go."

"I've been here for only a few days," 1st Lt. Dave T. Daily, a forward observer for 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines from San Diego.  "But when I have needed it, it's always here.  They're very dependable, it's great to get these Marines out of the heat."