II MEF Motor T practices vehicle recovery

31 Aug 2006 | Pfc. Christopher D. Lyttle

Marines of Motor Transport Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II MEF, performed vehicle recovery training to prepare for a six-week Vehicle Recovery Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Aug. 30.

A humvee was driven into a swamp and intentionally lodged in the mud of a watery landing zone so the Marines could employ an MK-36 medium tactical wrecker, tools and problem solving methods to free the vehicle.

“We use chains, shackles and a wench cable to hook up a vehicle when it gets stuck,” said Cpl. Robert J. Shinskie, wrecker operator for Motor Transport Company, who assisted in training the Marines. “The situation will dictate how we recover a vehicle, so sometimes we’ll get creative.”

Sgt. Peter W. Slutman, a truck master for Motor Tranport Company, coordinated the training and expressed how practical application is extremely beneficial for the three Marines in training.

“You could teach this stuff in books all day, but you have to actually operate the humvee or wrecker to understand it best,” said Slutman.

On the first application, the Marines took large, heavy chain links and shackled them to tow hooks on the immobilized vehicle.

Then, they took a wench cable from the wrecker and attached it to the chains. With the pull area clear, the humvee was carefully towed out of its rut.

On the second application, the Marines utilized a tree for leverage to pull the humvee out of an area where the seven-ton wrecker could not reach.

“We chained the base of a tree with a ‘snatch block’, or pulley, and ran the wench cable through and back out to the immobilized humvee. Then, we cleared the area and towed at an angle,” said Slutman.

Cpl. Jonathan M. Fisher, vehicle operator, Motor Transport Company, said practicing several towing scenarios prepares Marines for real-life situations. During his deployment to Iraq there were numerous cases of stuck vehicles, from tractor trailers to civilian cars, and several approaches in vehicle recovery were taken.

“Vehicles in mud, wrecks and breakdowns are just some types of incidents I’ve responded to in Iraq,” Slutman added, saying units would send out a Quick Recovery Force, which included a seven-ton wrecker, three humvees and a small wrecker.

Vehicle recovery training at Motor Transport Company is performed approximately once per month to give junior Marines a head start at applying skills before attending advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood.

Slutman said the effectiveness of this training is used in Quick Recovery Forces, noting his ultimate goal is to help other units in a timely manner, so they can be on their way.