CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and their different variations leave camp every day, but the improvised explosive devices and rugged terrain can quickly put these tough trucks on light duty.
After absorbing an explosion, the trucks may seem unfixable, but the Marine Corps counts on a crew of Marines and civilian contractors to rebuild them from the ground up in just a matter of weeks.
“If it’s Motor T, we’ll work on it, we’ll fix it,” said Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin G. Blanton, from Broomfield, Colo., the Motor Transportation Maintenance Platoon commander with 2nd Maintenance Battalion (-) (Reinforced), 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “When other unit’s maintenance sections can’t fix the problems on their vehicles, they bring them to us.”
Marines with Motor Transportation Maintenance Platoon work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to repair vehicles for every unit supporting International Security Assistance Force operations throughout Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“We usually see damages affecting suspension systems,” explained Cpl. Joey L. Johnson, from Ashland, Ill., the MRAP floor chief, “We take the trucks and check every aspect of the frame to ensure there aren’t extra damages, then we proceed to repair the trucks.”
The platoon is capable of fixing every vehicle the Marine Corps has, from the smaller Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain vehicle, known as M-ATV, to the heavy Logistics Vehicle System Replacement, the largest logistic vehicle in the arsenal.
“In best case scenarios, it can take from just days to a week to disassemble a truck, replace the broken parts and re-assemble it,” Johnson explained. “Sometimes we need to order parts, and it may delay the process a little.”
Although these Marines were proficient maintainers before coming to Afghanistan, nothing prepared them for the operational tempo they are now facing during this deployment.
“I think the biggest challenge here is the complexity of the job, it is not the same as working back on Camp Lejeune,” said Lance Cpl. Bryan Marquez Cortes from Houston, a motor transportation mechanic. “We know what we are doing … We have been doing this for a while; we are ready to fix these trucks regardless of the damage.”
The maintenance Marines know the job is not going to get any easier, but they stand confident, and continue to fix and deliver trucks back to their units in a timely manner so Marines or any other service member inside the area of operation can count on a safe ride back home.