CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan—Shrill screams of trucks backing up, sounds of clanging wrenches tightening loose screws and music resonate throughout the mechanic shop. Sand-coated grease stains cover the faces of Marines working beneath trucks and repairing damaged vehicles.
Motor transportation mechanics with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, work day and night to keep the battalion’s hundreds of combat vehicles running and ready to roll for their next mission.
With 10 to 15 vehicles needing repairs at any given time, the mechanics must be on top of their game. The Marines need a comprehensive knowledge of each vehicle they maintain, including the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, MRAP all-terrain vehicles, and forklifts.
Sgt. Chris Meyer, 26, the motor transportation maintenance chief, said his Marines work hard and are ready for anything from basic repairs like replacing broken mirrors to removing an entire cab from a seven-ton truck. “Though this is the first deployment for most of them, my guys are doing great,” said Meyer, a native of Mahopac, N.Y. “Even with the sometimes early mornings and long days, they accomplish any task given to them—making sure all the vehicles are operable and safe.”
Meyer, who is on his fourth deployment, said conditions in Afghanistan take a harsh toll on the vehicles. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve already made more than 150 vehicle repairs,” Meyer said. “From the hot weather causing trucks to overheat to the sandy roads breaking minesweepers, we never have a shortage of work to do.” Though the life of a mechanic may be dirty, the Marines love finishing repairs and returning the vehicles to service, said Cpl. Dimitri Armstead, 20, the maintenance section quality control non-commissioned officer, and a native of Kailua, Hawaii.
“Sometimes it’s a lot of hard work,” said Armstead. “But no matter how difficult a repair may be, we make sure it gets done to put the (vehicles) back in the fight.”
“Most people think our job is just to act as a tow-service for the broken-down trucks, but it’s much more than that,” said Lance Cpl. Keita Bass, 21, a motor transportation mechanic with 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, and native of Valdosta, Ga. “There are so many tiny aspects that go into consideration when repairing a truck—and if people only knew the half, they’d have a whole new perspective of being a mechanic.”
Despite constant temperatures above 100 degrees and long hours, the Marines have become a tightknit group.
“These guys are my family,” said Lance Cpl. Bladimir Buritica, 21, a motor transportation mechanic with 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, and native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “Some days may be worse than others, but there’s never a dull moment with them.”