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II Marine Expeditionary Force

Readiness. Standards. Core Values.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines embrace the night

By Cpl. Paul Peterson | | January 22, 2013

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A Marine with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group holds his helmet just prior to gearing up for a night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision equipment and directions from their command operations center to complete their 45-minute trip through dark gravel roads and city streets.

A Marine with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group holds his helmet just prior to gearing up for a night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision equipment and directions from their command operations center to complete their 45-minute trip through dark gravel roads and city streets. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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A wrecked vehicle partially impedes the path of 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision devices to navigate through some of the obstacles along their route, which included a mock village filled with ruble and destroyed automobiles.

A wrecked vehicle partially impedes the path of 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision devices to navigate through some of the obstacles along their route, which included a mock village filled with ruble and destroyed automobiles. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Information is displayed as a digital readout on the control panel for a radio used during 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s convoy through the dark roads at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The unit’s Marines relied on radio communications with their command operations center to complete their 45-minute route through a mixture of unmarked gravel roads and dimly-lit city streets.

Information is displayed as a digital readout on the control panel for a radio used during 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s convoy through the dark roads at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The unit’s Marines relied on radio communications with their command operations center to complete their 45-minute route through a mixture of unmarked gravel roads and dimly-lit city streets. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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The speedometer in a Humvee displays the speed of 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s night convoy as it passes through the dark roads of Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., the night of Jan. 16, 2013. The unit’s Marines maintained a predetermined speed during their operation to ensure each vehicle maintained its position in the convoy.

The speedometer in a Humvee displays the speed of 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s night convoy as it passes through the dark roads of Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., the night of Jan. 16, 2013. The unit’s Marines maintained a predetermined speed during their operation to ensure each vehicle maintained its position in the convoy. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Two Humvees take the lead in a night training convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. Six vehicles carefully traversed a route through the darkness with the help of the unit’s command operations center, which guided the convoy through a series of waypoints established prior to their mission.

Two Humvees take the lead in a night training convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. Six vehicles carefully traversed a route through the darkness with the help of the unit’s command operations center, which guided the convoy through a series of waypoints established prior to their mission. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Parked Humvees at the lead of a night convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group wait to set out on a training mission at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The drivers turned off the vehicles’ lights for the darkest portion of their route to practice using night vision devices.

Parked Humvees at the lead of a night convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group wait to set out on a training mission at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The drivers turned off the vehicles’ lights for the darkest portion of their route to practice using night vision devices. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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A seven-ton truck waits to set out on a night training convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The unit used six vehicles to conduct the convoy at the training site, where they honed their night-time navigation and communication skills.

A seven-ton truck waits to set out on a night training convoy conducted by 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The unit used six vehicles to conduct the convoy at the training site, where they honed their night-time navigation and communication skills. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Cpl. Joseph. B. Altamirano (left), a North Carolina native and motor transportation operator with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, briefs his team before they set out on a night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision devices for a portion of their mission and used the convoy to hone their night-time navigation and communication skills in conjunction with the unit’s command operations center.

Cpl. Joseph. B. Altamirano (left), a North Carolina native and motor transportation operator with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, briefs his team before they set out on a night convoy at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16, 2013. The Marines relied on night vision devices for a portion of their mission and used the convoy to hone their night-time navigation and communication skills in conjunction with the unit’s command operations center. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- “We just hit checkpoint two,” reported Lance Cpl. Joseph S. Holder, a field radio operator with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, to the command operations center as he called in his position. “We’re about to go black out, over.”

Holder, a Roxboro, N.C., native, who went by the call sign “Goose,” held his handset close to his ear and waited for a response.
“All right, let’s do it,” he said.

The driver killed the vehicle’s lights, and the convoy set out as darkness swallowed the road ahead.

The Marines with 2nd Supply Bn. peered through the curtain of black as they cautiously rolled through the deserted roads at Camp Lejeune’s Home Station Training Lanes in Holly Ridge, N.C., Jan. 16.

“Most of my guys have been deployed, so they’ve done this sort of thing before,” said 1st Lt. Brett W. Roberts, a platoon commander with the battalion who helped organize the unit’s night convoy training. “If you haven’t done it in a while, it’s good to brush up on it, especially when driving with [night vision equipment].”

The road ahead transformed into a narrow tunnel of grainy, green images as the drivers turned on their night vision devices and accelerated toward a simulated village filled with rubble and wrecked vehicles.

Radio operators maintained constant contact with each vehicle in the convoy and reported back to command.

“[The COC] tells you where the waypoints are and where you are going to end up,” said Lance Cpl. Joel M. Bumgardner, a motor transportation operator with the battalion, who drove the second vehicle in the convoy. “In case a vehicle goes down, they need to know as soon as possible to make sure everyone is keeping up.”

The team at the COC plotted the convoy’s positions based on reports from the vehicles. They then relayed instructions to guide the drivers through a 45-minute ride through unmarked gravel roads that emptied out onto city streets.

The drivers maintained a predetermined speed to keep the six-vehicle convoy from bunching up along their route.

“You lose a lot of depth perception out there,” said Bumgardner, a native of Grants Pass, Ore. “Without the depth perception, you have to know what speed you are supposed to be going so you’re not creeping up on the guy [in front] too quickly or backing up into somebody.”

It has been a while since the servicemembers used night vision during convoy operations, and this training is designed to keep them familiar with the equipment, said Roberts.

The vehicles passed through the final waypoint at a bend in the road and neared the unit’s staging area. Holder radioed his command.

“COC, this is Goose. Come in,” he said. “Requesting permission to enter.”

Light from the unit’s base camp washed over the vehicles as the Marines reentered the site, killed power to their engines and disembarked.