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Combat Train keeps wheels rolling for 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment

2 Apr 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

It isn’t the drone of the hulking seven-ton truck engines that keeps Staff Sgt. Alberto M. PerezTorres awake.  It’s not even bottomless cups of coffee or nicotine-induced pick-ups.

It’s more like the improvised explosive devices and occasional gunfire directed at his middle-of-the-night runs to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment’s outlying posts.  But it never slows him down.

PerezTorres is the convoy commander for the battalion’s Combat Train One, the supply lifeline that keeps beans, bullets and bandages rolling out to the infantrymen. 

“So far we have been lucky, none of the combat trains has hit an IED while on missions,” said 38-year-old PerezTorres, from Los Angeles. “We have encountered a few, but we have been able to call out (explosive ordnance disposal teams) to take care of them.”

The Combat Train One mission starts hours and even days before they actually spark up the engines on humvees and trucks.  They decide what supplies need to go out, ranging from spare parts and ammunition to mail.  Map studies follow.  Routes are chosen, security is added to the mix and plans are combed over again and again.

This day’s mission had them traveling to Abu Ghraib.  Topping other concerns, weather was turning for the worse. Thunderstorms gathered on the horizon.

Running supplies is a constant on-the-go mission for the Marines, despite any of the conditions.  Nearly every day, a combat train takes to the road keeping supplies moving forward.

“In the two months the battalion has been in country we have been on a total of 108 missions,” said Warrant Officer Jeromie A. Rogers, the 32-year-old officer-in-charge from Iowa City, Iowa. “Depending on the mission and what we encounter, we can drive anywhere from 10 miles to 60 miles.”

The Marines driving the supplies forward bring with them a hodgepodge of different skills.  They’re comprised of the battalion’s Marines and attachments, all working together to keep the wheels rolling.

“In the teams we have a mixture of motor transport Marines, infantry Marines and communications Marines,” PerezTorres said. “All of the Marines are outstanding and perform their jobs well.”

In addition to re-supplying and transportation, the teams set up vehicle check points and also provide a quick reaction force for the battalion, Rogers said.

The Marines know the value of the job they perform for the battalion. They realize that without them, the battalion’s Marines wouldn’t be able to perform their role in operations.

“Like any other job here there are risks,” PerezTorres said. “We look forward to the missions we are given. We are happy to do our job.”

Venturing out in stormy weather and knowing the dangers out there keeps the team motivated to do the job they have before them. They know they supply the companies with what they need to meet mission requirements.

“All of the Marines are happy to see us come,” said Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Graziano, a 20-year-old wireman from Moraga, Calif. “They need the supplies we bring. I think we do an important job.”

The day’s run found them back at Camp Fallujah, having traveled to Abu Ghraib and back.  But just as this run wound down, they were already gearing up for the next.

“It’s a never ending job,” Graziano said. “As long as we are here, the Marines are going to need supplies and transportation.”