MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.-- -- When the II Marine Expeditionary Force left for Iraq, the majority of the Marines from the motor transport shop went along. However, their vehicles stayed here under the charge of a select few mechanics. For these Marines, maintaining a fleet of approximately 140 vehicles with a minimum number of people is a manageable task.
“We put in some long days,” said Sgt. Wayne J. Evans, acting platoon sergeant at the motor pool. He and his Marines are carrying the same workload once shouldered by a group more than twice the size currently on hand.
The shop consists of vehicle operators and mechanics of High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles and 7-ton trucks. While vehicle operators are busy delivering supplies and troops as well as license validations, the mechanics are tasked to keep the vehicles rolling safely down the road, said Evans.
“We do up to second echelon maintenance on vehicles. The first echelon is made up of small (preventative maintenance) issues, like tires and fluids. The second echelon goes into a little more detail, like hear hubs, oil, transmissions, gear changing, and stuff like that.”
Pfc. Josue Vega, of Perth Amboy, N.J. is one of the newest Marines in the shop, yet has a clear understanding of the mission at hand.
“If we don’t have people to fix vehicles, no troops or supplies would get anywhere,” said Vega, a newcomer to the Corps with only 11 months in.
Pfc. Justin Eaton has clocked a year in the Marine Corps, and has spent that time in the mechanical trade as well. He agreed on the significance of the motor pool’s mission.
“It makes the whole unit function,” said the Hinghan, Mass., native, “without this, the mission wouldn’t be accomplished. Even the little bolts that make you mad because you can’t get them out mean something. Without that bolt being in the right way, the vehicle wouldn’t run right and whoever runs this truck, whether it’s the infantry, intelligence or whoever, might not be able to get their job done.”
“Working here gives me a sense of responsibility,” said Vega.
Cpl. Robert F. Fletcher of Brook Park, Ohio, returned from his second tour in Iraq approximately a month ago and has re-joined II MEF Motor T with a refreshed perspective on the job he does.
“You always want to make sure you do your best in the aspect of your job,” he said. “You also want to make your troops strive to be better.”
Among myriad wrench-turning jobs around the garage, Fletcher, Vega, and their fellow Marines keep the garage and its equipment in working order for the return of the deployed Marines. In the mean time, the garage at home is in good hands.