Two mechanics keep 1/5's wheels turning

31 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

When a Humvee limps home after taking beating from the rough terrain here, it's the mechanical ingenuity of two Marines who get the vehicle back on the 'hardball' delivering 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment troops to the fight.Corporal Michalson Bahe and Pfc. David S. Johnson, motor transportation mechanics with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, boast a 24-hour turnover period on all the vehicles they work on."The missions out here are important, and the Marines need vehicles to accomplish those missions," said 21-year-old Bahe from Casa Grande, Ariz., while refilling a Humvee's power steering fluid. "We have to fix their vehicles the moment they get here. They need them ready to go right away so they can get back on the road.The two mechanics have a workload that would make a crew at Jiffy Lube want to wring their hands.They're responsible for maintaining and repairing the vehicles for Companies A, C and Weapons."There's about ninety vehicles that we work on," said Johnson, a 27-year-old from New Baltimore, Mich. "We stay very busy."Johnson said he and Bahe turn wrenches 12 hours a day, but it's not unusual to work longer. The team often burns the midnight oil at their garage."We're on call all night long," he said. "There have been many times that we've had to come out here to our shop at three or four in the morning to fix vehicles. All the companies know were we sleep and they come find us whenever they need their vehicles fixed."It isn't too much for them, though."Yeah, it's a lot of work, but we can handle it," stated Bahe. Bahe and Johnson know their way around a Humvee. Aside from rotating the vehicles' tires, changing the oil and filters and doing other preventative maintenance, they can also do body work."The driver's side door is sticking," said Lance Cpl. John S. Summers Jr., an Indianapolis native and assaultman with Company W, while waiting for Bahe and Johnson to fix his Humvee. "I think it's the latch. The power steering is also messed up. The wheel won't turn when the vehicle is stationary."Bahe and Johnson fixed the Humvee's tricky door and put some much needed power steering fluid in it. Within 10 minutes of pulling into their garage, the 21-year-old anti-tank assaultman's vehicle was good to go."The two of us keep half the battalion's trucks up and running, said Bahe."