Photo Information

Lance Cpls. Dustin R. Smith (left) and Steven A. Wilke look through a scrapped humvee to salvage parts from the engine at Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 19. The humvee is located in the automotive salvage section of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing lot here. Service members come here to salvage parts from damaged and unusable vehicles. The Marines are automotive organizational mechanics with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). Wilke is a native of Medford, Ore., and Smith is a native of Chicago.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nikki M. Fleming

Automotive salvage yard keeps vehicles rolling at Al Asad

2 Oct 2006 | Cpl. Brandon L. Roach

During the hustle and bustle of operations aboard Al Asad Air Base, Marines can be found in an automotive graveyard, rummaging through old broken-down vehicles and salvaging the usable parts for use in their humvees, Medium Truck Vehicle Replacements and other types of vehicles here.

These scrapped vehicles are located at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office lot. Unlike a common salvage yard in the United States, this organized lot is maintained by soldiers and sailors in order to make the process easier to retrieve needed items.

"Our job out here is to get the war fighter home," said Army Maj. Chad A. Weddell, DRMO chief. "All the scrap vehicles from the Al Anbar province of Iraq come to our location to be salvaged."

Although there are several different things available for use at the DRMO lot, the motor vehicle mechanics who use the lot regularly agree that without the old vehicles stored here, it would be difficult for their units to perform their functions.

"Marines and soldiers are always on the road doing missions," said Lance Cpl. Steven A. Wilke, automotive organizational mechanic, Maintenance Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). "We have to do whatever we can do to keep them rolling all the time."

Having a high operational tempo keeps these mechanics on their feet, either ordering parts or searching through the approximately 350 vehicles in the lot.

"We get an average of 400 customers to the salvage lot per week," said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Herburt Parada, storekeeper, DRMO. "Most of the stuff we have here has to be (de-militarized) before it can be sold as scrap metal, so we keep the vehicles until there is pretty much nothing left of them."

De-milling is the process of going through the many types of military vehicles and removing all of the military additions on the vehicles.

"All the military additions such as the steel armor, gun turrets and extra wiring must be removed, recycled or destroyed before we scrap the trucks out," said Parada, a Reno, Nev., native. "Most of the time these parts are reused by the service members in country."

The DRMO lot also salvages many other things to be used again by other agencies during their time in theater, but one-third of their operations are based on the automotive section of the lot.

"We get a lot of tires in that are considered usable to the military," said Weddell. "Last week alone we re-circulated approximately $100,000 worth of tires back to the troops."

With constant ground operations taking place in and out of the air base, the mechanics of all units here always have the option for parts by using the automotive salvage section of DRMO, and for them, speed and convince is key with keeping their operations rolling.

"This is so much faster than waiting for parts to be shipped to us," said Wilke. "We can cannibalize the trucks and not have to wait for a shipment of parts."