BRIDGEPORT, Calif. -- Motor transportation Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and Combat Logistics Battalion 26, Headquarters Regiment, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, expanded their horizons during small unit support vehicle and mountain driving courses Jan. 14, 2015, in preparation for mountain warfare and survival training in the coming weeks.
Sergeant Franklin Ramos, a motor transportation licensing noncommissioned officer, took the Marines to a classroom environment, where he showed them the ins and outs of the vehicles they would be driving, as well as operating those vehicles in various types of terrain. He explained to the Marines that the small unit support vehicles are far more efficient in their design for travelling in mountainous terrain as opposed to the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).
“We are teaching [the Marines] how to operate small unit support vehicles and HMMWVs in mountainous environments,” said Ramos. “Once we get to the mountain, we can see how the vehicles react in deeper snow and ice, and terrain without snow.”
Once Ramos had finished instructing the Marines, he led them back to the motor pool, where they would take the vehicles out on a short convoy. The Marines split into pairs, climbed into the HMMWVs and put them to the test throughout the hills.
Ramos stressed the importance of maintaining safety while driving.
“You have to be careful, especially while driving downhill in a HMMWV, because they pick up speed quickly,” said Ramos. “We’re teaching them how to trust the transmission, as well as getting a feel for the vehicles when driving in low gear and going downhill.”
Lance Cpl. Joe McNeal, a motor vehicle operator with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, said that he’d driven HMMWVs plenty of times, but this was his first time operating a small unit support vehicle.
“It’s a lot different up here,” said McNeal, comparing the flatter terrain of Camp Lejeune to the mountains of Bridgeport. “We’ve got to get used to driving up the mountain.”
McNeal added that situational awareness is still a very important factor of operating any vehicle in any type of environment.
“We’ve got to watch out for anything and everything that could be in the way,” he said.
Despite any challenges the Marines could face in the mountains during training, McNeal remains confident in his job and what it means to be playing a part of the bigger picture.
“We get to experience a lot,” McNeal said. “If it wasn’t for motor transport, those Marines wouldn’t get any supplies up on the mountain. We’ve got to be prepared, and have a solution for everything.”
The Marines used the training to their advantage, operating the vehicles successfully and safely, and continued to provide necessary transportation for the Marines bivouacking at the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.