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thedrifter
08-26-09, 07:31 AM
Motor T always delivers

8/25/2009 By Lance Cpl. John M. McCall , Regimental Combat Team 3

Despite the many obstacles that motor transport operators face each day on the road, in the end, they always deliver the goods.

Marines with the motor transportation section, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, participate in resupply convoys despite enemy activity and natural obstacles throughout Nawa District, the battalion’s area of operations. To maintain day-to-day responsibilities, it is vital that the Marines in the forward-most areas be stocked with ammunition, equipment, repair parts, food and water. An additional task – mail delivery – helps the Marines stay motivated and connected with their loved ones back home.

“We supply the companies with everything they need,” said Lance Cpl. Devon Sigmon, 24, a motor transport operator, and a Detroit native. “We put it on trucks and take to them. It allows Marines to do their job efficiently.”

“Motor T” Marines don’t serve as delivery men only. They are prepared to leave at a moment’s notice to provide maintenance support. If a vehicle breaks down on the road, they’re on the way with a tow truck and a bag of tools.

“We have to be ready to go all the time,” said Lance Cpl. Gearo Ayala, 21, a motor transport operator and Bay Town, Texas, native. “If a vehicle gets stuck, they call us to get it out. If a vehicle is broken, we have to fix it. Vehicles break down. It happens. When they do, we need to be able to fix them immediately – whether we are in the middle of a convoy or back at the FOB.”

If a vehicle needs more than a band-aid to keep it on the road, five mechanics here work around the clock to ensure more complicated repairs are completed. Motor T operators may drive the trucks, but it’s the mechanics that keep them on the road. On call at all hours, mechanics with 1/5 are given wrecked vehicles and expected to perform miracles overnight.

“We’ll get woken up in the middle of the night to go look at a vehicle and have to get it running by morning,” said mechanic Cpl. Matthew Gillespi, 22, from Sylvania, Ohio. “It can be challenging at times, but you get used to it.”

“When it comes time to work, things have to get to done, and we usually have very little time to do it,” said Lance Cpl. Jack Applegate, 20, a mechanic from Spokane, Wash.

Performing these seemingly colossal tasks is not made any easier by the nature of their workspace. In the States, they would have a garage – or at least buildings to work out of – a regular schedule and a full set of tools. Out here, it’s a little different.

“In the rear we have a set schedule, but out here it’s just kind of reacting to whatever happens,” said Cpl. Simon Mendoza, 20, a mechanic from Dallas. “We’ve got ‘this’ and ‘that.’ Now, what can we make out of it?

“We have to piece things together sometimes when we don’t have the materials we need,” he explained.

1/5’s mission is to assist the Afghan people in Nawa District. Taking the first big step to clear and hold ground formerly controlled by Taliban forces and then staying to provide support for the people has never been done before, according to Capt. Daniel Thomas, the commanding officer for 1/5’s H&S Company.

Accomplishing their mission is important not only to the success of the Afghan government, but also to the residents here. Every aspect of support lends itself to that mission, and Motor T plays a big part.

“Vehicles are such a big part of how we get things from point A to point B,” Ayala said. “It is a good feeling to know that because of what you do, Marines are able to go and do good things for these people.”

In this combat zone, there are several potential hazards for motor transportation – hostile actions by insurgents, natural obstacles like rivers and canals, and no paved roads anywhere in this part of the country. Getting over, through and across anything that gets in their way, Motor T supplies their fellow comrades with the means to succeed.

Ellie