CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Third Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment has in its arsenal of assets a group of Marines and sailors known as the “Combat Train,” who assist in the unit’s logistics needs.
They provide security for service members, gear and supplies for the battalion, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as they are transported over Iraqi motorways and thoroughfares.
“We are always on call and are always ready to go if we are needed to take anyone or anything anywhere,” explained Lance Cpl. Michael A. Romano, a motor transportation operator and machine gunner for the combat train.
The Centereach, N.Y., native and his fellow Marines regularly work with the battalion’s logistics section to move general supplies such as equipment, food and other items needed by the Marines at outlying bases.
“The battalion’s Combat Train has proven to be a true force-multiplier for the task force, providing security escorts and main service road security in addition to logistics distribution,” explained Capt. George F. Reniers, the battalion’s logistics officer.
Along with moving equipment and supplies, Romano and the combat train transport personnel as well, to include the battalion chaplain, corpsmen and others service members from 8th Marine Regiment and II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The Marines and sailors of the combat train also provide their own security while traveling.
“I am the rear security machine gunner and I am always watching the vehicles and people while scanning the area for suspicious activity,” Romano, a 2003 Centereach High School graduate, explained.
During their time here, Romano and his comrades-in-arms have completed 138 missions, to include providing main supply route security. This consists of sweeping the roadways for Improvised Explosive Devices, along with vehicle-borne IEDs. Finding these devices helps save the lives of both military personnel and Iraqi civilians.
During one shift of MSR security, Romano was serving as the first vehicle’s machinegunner when he spotted what may have been a possible IED. He’s quick reaction prevented the vehicles, loaded with Marines and supplies, from entering a possible danger area.
“We were driving down the road and I spotted a brown burlap bag, which looked like it was an IED,” Romano explained. When the Marines investigated this possible threat, Romano’s suspicion was confirmed, it was an IED and they were able to perform a controlled detonation of the bomb.
Using the training he’d received, Romano prevented his fellow Marines from being injured and possibly a vehicle being severely damaged.
“He (Romano) is somewhat of a timid Marine, but when it’s time to step-up to the plate, he is always the first one,” explained Sgt. Giovanni A. Lobo, the assistant convoy commander for the combat train. “If it wasn’t for Romano spotting the IED, we would have had injured Marines and a damaged vehicle.”
Romano and the rest of the Marines manning the combat train continue to push forward in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to help provide a stable and prosperous country for the Iraqis.