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Motor transportation keeps Lejeune battalion in business

7 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

It's high noon in Iraq and the sun's beating down.  Temperatures are soaring well into the hundreds and the steady clang of tools and hum of engines isn't letting up.

Instead, the motor transportation Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines are just getting warmed up. 

Their job is arguably the most important in the battalion - without them the 'pride don't ride.'

"We support the battalion and all their transport needs.  Basically, that means we haul everything from troops to cargo," said Cpl. Brandon W. Fuller, a 27 year-old driver from Jacksonville, N.C.  "If it's here, we carted it in and if it needs to get out, we're the go-to guys."

Motor transport doesn't just depend on drivers, however.  The mechanics are the men in the trenches here.  These Marines work outside all day and often well into the night to make sure the vehicles needing repair are ready to go.

"We work until we run out of parts for the vehicles that need to be fixed," said Sgt. John H. Vanburen, the 25-year-old motor transportation's shop chief from Rochester N.Y.  "We like to get vehicles in and out in a day or less.  There's never a break in our work because the vehicles always break."

The section sports 17 mechanics responsible for repairing and maintaining almost 150 vehicles.  This stands as no easy task, one mechanic explained.

"These vehicles are used 24 hours a day," said Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Hummel, a 20-year-old mechanic from Philipsburg, Pa.  "When one unit comes in from patrol they rest while another vehicle is picked up by the next one to go out."

The Marines in motor transportation take special pride in the fact they can hold their own while out with the infantry.

"I heard about motor-t units in other services," Fuller said.  "Their guys know nothing about the infantry, or how to work with them in case you get attacked.  Our guys have proven they can hold their own.  When on patrol, we've got to know what to do in case we're attacked and our guys have done everything from running ammo to the infantrymen to firing ourselves."

When not delivering or picking up troops and supplies, the drivers and mechanics here rarely experience time off.  The needs of their vehicles take precedence over their own needs, according to Fuller.

"When there's no mission out there, we still have a mission here," Fuller said.  "Our vehicles we use for convoys always need preventative maintenance in addition to normal repairs."

He explained how even when there weren't any vehicles in need of repair from the rifle companies, their own vehicles had to be kept in top condition in case they were needed.

"We do everything from driving to quick-reaction force here at motor-t," Vanburen explained.  "Every vehicle here is our responsibility, and we take pride in doing our job well."

The battalion's motor transportation team distinguished themselves while they still called Mahmudiyah, Iraq their home, in April.

"One of the greatest examples of professionalism and teamwork I've ever seen I saw from motor-t," said Lt. Col. Giles Kyser, commanding officer of the battalion from Dumfries, Va.  "One of our vehicles had been hit by a (bomb) out in town.  They pulled limping into the camp and people sprang into action."

The colonel described how he saw the medical staff begin to triage the victims and at the same time, motor transport Marines went to work on the vehicle.

"They would have made Jeff Gordon's pit crew proud," Kyser said.  "They changed out the tires, replaced the windshield and patched up the holes in the same time it took our battalion aid station to get the wounded off the vehicle and begin treatment."

The vehicle was outside the gate on another patrol a half hour after it was brought in, Kyser added.

"I think I have the best motor transport team in the whole First Marine Division," Kyser said.  "I couldn't be prouder."