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Every Marine an “A-Driver:” RCT-7 picks up recovery skills

9 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Benjamin Crilly

Marines with Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, are taking measures to ensure successful and safe convoy operations while deployed in Afghanistan as part of Regimental Combat Team 7.

A vehicle recovery class was provided for the Afghanistan-bound Marines during a pre-deployment training exercise here Aug.6, because they too may be called upon to serve as assistant drivers and aid operators during vehicle recovery operations while deployed.

The course taught the basics for vehicle recovery, and provided an opportunity to apply those skills during practical applications in settings that mirror Afghanistan.

The class included three vehicle recovery tows, practical application with two different tow vehicles, and various scenarios for recovering multiple disabled vehicles.

“Our class is important because everyone will be an (assistant driver) at one point in time,” said 21-year-old Cpl. John C. Parks, a motor transportation wrecker operator with Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, from Summerville, S.C. “You teach them to know the basics. If someone doesn’t pay attention, it could ultimately get them or one of my guys killed.”

Convoy commanders and their assistant commanders are responsible for the safe transportation of all personnel and gear. A vehicle can become disabled by an enemy attack or by mechanical breakdown.

To prevent equipment malfunction, the motor transportation mechanics perform extra maintenance on their vehicles in preparation for the terrain and weather conditions found in Afghanistan.

“One of the biggest challenges that I hear of being in a desert environment is going to be sandstorms. The sand requires more maintenance on vehicles, which means that we will have to change the air filters more often and replace the fuel injectors more,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jose E. Casino, the motor transportation maintenance chief for Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, from Angleton, Texas. “Basically we are conducting more preventative maintenance, checks and services, more often.”

With the preemptive measures taken and the implementation of the skills taught, 7th Marine Regiment will be better able to conduct safe and successful convoy operations during mechanized, combined-arms operations and other expeditionary operations in order to support theater engagement plans and contingency operations for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

“Any day I could be doing this same thing,” said Lance Cpl. Justin A. Stein, an administrative clerk with Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, from Sacramento, Calif. “When stuff hits the fan, I will know what to do, and won’t be the one that is lost.”