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Ohio native keeps Marines mobile in Iraq’s Al Anbar province

7 Aug 2006 | Cpl. Graham A. Paulsgrove

Regardless of how many insurgents they catch or hours they spend on patrolling Iraq’s roads in their massive, eight-wheeled light armored vehicles, U.S. and Iraqi forces in this region wouldn’t be nearly as mobile if it weren’t for Marines like Cpl. Brett M. Briscoe.

The 22-year-old from Warren, Ohio, is one of the pieces to the puzzle that keeps 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s driving force – the lightt armored vehicle (LAV) - moving forward.

The LAV is an armored, all-terrain troop transport vehicle which provides direct fire support to the infantry.

“I help keep the vehicles up and running – which keeps [the battalion] in the fight,” said Briscoe.

The Twentynine Palms, Calif.-based battalion, charged with maintaining security and stability in their area – a region in Al Anbar province of mostly desert littered with small towns throughout the far reaches of the south west corner of Al Anbar province – relies heavily on their mammoth LAVs to provide security in one of the largest U.S. military areas of operation in Iraq.

Before he was turning wrenches in the Middle East for the Marines, the 2003 LaBrae High School graduate gave college a shot, but it turned out it wasn’t meant for him, he said. 

“I wanted to work on diesel engines and I saw the Marine Corps as a good opportunity- so here I am,” said Briscoe, who worked as a mechanic at his uncle’s shop in Ohio for about five years while he attended high school and briefly, college.

In addition to turning wrenches, Briscoe spends even more of his time keeping the battalion’s thousands of vehicle parts organized. He is responsible for tracking, storing, and issuing everything from tires to fuses – anything and everything needed to keep the more than 24,000-pound LAVs operational.

“The LAV has thousands of parts – Briscoe keeps all of them in order,” said Cpl. Chris A. White, a fellow LAV mechanic. “My job would be a lot harder if he didn’t have his act together.”

Briscoe, who was promoted to his current rank six days ago, has also spent a majority of his deployment patrolling with the infantrymen — Marines who primarily patrol on foot or “dismounted” patrols — in  LAVs:  providing security on convoys through this vast desert “outside the wire.” His time as part of an LAV crew patrolling western Iraq’s roads, towns and villages was quite a different experience from his usual regimen of sorting parts and maintaining vehicles.

“I learned a lot about infantry tactics, the different weapons systems and what to do in certain situations,” said Briscoe. “We were constantly on the road going all over the place.”

Still, with his time as an improvised infantryman over, Briscoe is glad he’s back to turning wrenches, where he belongs, he said.

“Both sections are good, but I like being back here,” said Briscoe. “I like the maintenance guys and I get to do my official Marine Corps job.”

“He is a great Marine- you tell him to do something and he won’t quit until it is done,” said Sgt. James R. Hemphill, Briscoe’s platoon sergeant. “There have been plenty of times he has worked well into the night to make sure the job is done, and done the right way.”

Roughly half-way through his stint in the Marine Corps, Briscoe is considering a career as a diesel mechanic in the civilian sector upon completion of his tour in the Marine Corps.

Still, he’s keeping his options open, saving the extra money he’s made while serving in Iraq as he’s not 100-percent sure he won’t stay in the Corps.

“My plan is to get out, but you never know,” he said.

Briscoe says he looks forward to seeing his parents, grandparents and sister upon returning to the States in September.

Email Cpl. Paulsgrove at: paulsgrovepa@gcemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil