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A radiator cap is removed on a Medium Truck Vehicle Replacement, more commonly known as a 7-ton, at Al Asad, Iraq, July 18. Motor transportation Marines repair and keep nearly 200 tactical vehicles up to speed for their unit through many hours of struggling work so that the mission can be completed as easily as possible.

Photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Motor transportation fixes vehicles to keep communications flowing

27 Nov 2007 | Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Fiddling through the grease-coated leverages and on the dust-covered engines of military vehicles is a life only most young men dream of. It's a job that allows them to go out and get their hands dirty instead of sitting behind a computer or a desk like some of their peers.

The motor transportation Marines with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, Marine Air Control Group 38 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, ensure that the squadron is able to meet their mission by upholding their own.

"The main mission for motor transportation with communications squadron is to support the main effort as far as communications," said Staff Sgt. Quentin A. Brown, maintenance chief, motor transportation, MWCS-38. "They need vehicles to help transport personnel and equipment. Our job is to basically keep the vehicles running."

Communications squadron has an estimated 180 tactical vehicles that the Marines use for different instances whether to run wires and cables or fix transmissions throughout the base, according to Brown, a 31-year-old Danville, Va., native.

"We don't have licensed or (Military Occupation Specialty) credited drivers," said Brown, a George Washington High School graduate. "We have to make sure the Marines pay attention to the vehicles. A lot of people look at them like rental vehicles. No one really pays attention to rental vehicles, because they know that if they mess it up, they don't have to fix it."

Other elements that the motor transportation Marines have to face are the conditions of the environment, such as heat, terrain and the added protection on the vehicles.

"The impact of the heat, being in a combat environment and the added weight of the armor affects the vehicles," said Sgt. Charles A. Cardon, assistant maintenance chief, motor transportation, MWCS-38. "With the heat, we've been having problems with the JP-8 fuel. It burns too hot. Also, in the rough terrain, people are blowing out tires and shock absorbers."

However, the most challenging fact is that being a mechanic is a job without end, according to Cpl. Robert F. Majkozak, quality control noncommissioned officer, motor transportation, MWCS-38.

"Things are always breaking," said Majkozak, a 22-year-old native of Minneapolis. "You have to go on though. If they don't have their truck, they can't complete their mission. You just have to get over that part of it, that doesn't end. That's part of what being a Marine is."

The Marines enjoy their job as the communications squadron's wheels of transportation, as they know they are needed and that without them, the squadron couldn't operate at half the pace it is now working at.

"It's a fun job," said Majkozak, a Clarks Center High School graduate. "You get to go out and get your hands dirty. It's a lot like building a puzzle. When people bring a truck in that has been wrecked or thrashed, getting it back up and running is an awesome thing."

"Without us, everyone would be walking and carrying their gear," said Cardon, a 25-year-old Smithfield, Utah, native. "The equipment can't go anywhere without a truck to haul it with."

Although the Marines with communications squadron's motor transportation section have many challenges to face as vehicle mechanics in Iraq's environment, they are not new to the situation, and they all work well as a team, according to Brown.

"The least challenging thing for me is the Marines themselves," Brown concluded. "This is about their third time coming out here. For me, they operate all on their own. They do about everything without me getting too much involved with them. They are a great group of Marines and a colorful group of individuals who keep things interesting."
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing