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CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq (September 15, 2008) – Lance Cpl. Sean Lindsay (left), and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Michael, mechanics with Motor Transport Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd marine Regiment, regimental Combat Team 1, repair a towing mechanism Sept. 15. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Grinding Gears: Mechanics keep Marines on their wheels

15 Sep 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq (September 15, 2008) – Arguably having one of the toughest jobs within Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, motor transport mechanics are putting in extra hours to keep the battalion on it’s wheels.

 The battalion has a total of 10 mechanics with a minimum of one assigned to every company, and four who are providing higher echelon maintenance for the battalion when needed. If a mechanic with one of the companies is unable to repair a vehicle, it is brought to the battalion mechanics who have the ability to make more complex repairs.  

 Averaging 16-hour days, the mechanics work on a constant flow of disabled vehicles coming into their shop.

 “We never stop working,” said Lance Cpl. Sean Lindsay, a 24-year-old mechanic with the battalion. “There’s always something to fix.”

 Marines repair anywhere from four to six vehicles a day, said Lindsay, a Wurtsboro, N.Y., native.

The biggest challenge comes with diagnosing the mechanical problems, as repairs can vary depending on the specific vehicle, he said. While mechanics may change a tire on a vehicle today, tomorrow they may have to replace axles or install a new suspension system on another.

In Iraq, where mounted patrols support foot patrols, “the reliability of vehicles is critical to mission success,” explained 1st. Lt. Glen Ankrah, Motor-T Platoon Commander.

Marines are averaging up to 2,500 miles a month on each vehicle, according to Ankarh’s latest report.

“With the amount of miles these guys are driving we have to be ready to work,” explained Lindsay. “With that much wear and tear something is bound to break.”

The battalion’s mechanics are the second echelon in a three echelon system designed for a 24-hour turnaround of disabled vehicles. This equates to the mechanics with 1st Bn., 2nd Marines being always on call.

“If a truck comes in at three in the morning we get up and start work right away,” said Lindsay. “We understand the asset we provide.”

Mechanics explained many of the problems they have with vehicles are caused by Iraq’s extreme weather. The heat and dusty air here affect critical vehicle functions like fuel pumps and cooling systems.

Regardless of the problem or type of vehicle, the mechanics are hard at work to keep the battalion mobile and in the fight.

 It is clear that in today’s War on Terror, “logistics drive the operation” said Ankrah, showing his immense pride on the behalf of his Marines.