MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Millions of Americans depend on luxury vehicles to move about in their daily lives. In the Marine Corps, thousands of Marines depend on massive 5,000 lb. vehicles driven by Sgt. Emilio A. Nepomuceno, a Chicago native, and other motor vehicle operators to accomplish their daily missions while deployed to Iraq.
Nepomuceno and his Marines keep the Corps rolling, whether it’s transporting Marines to their destinations, supplying them food and water, or weapons and ammunition, or doing mounted patrols through dangerous urban environments.
“Motor T are basically the drivers of the Marine Corps,” explained Nepomuceno, a motor vehicle operator and platoon sergeant for Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. “We provide the drivers for any mission the Corps needs.”
The training the Marines go through before deploying can be as simple as parallel parking these massive vehicles or as complicated as driving at night with night-vision goggles.
“They do a lot of training for future deployments and to simply build their confidence operating these vehicles,” said Nepomuceno, who is also Headquarters Battery’s training noncommissioned officer.
Maneuvering through an urban environment, driving off-road and driving through water are examples of training the Marines go through to become confident in their driving abilities.
The Marines conduct field training exercises such as simulated convoys, to learn how to maintain proper distance from one another and to evade improvised-explosive device attacks.
“IEDs are big in Iraq right now so we need to be prepared if we ever get hit by one,” said Pfc. J. L. Evans, a fellow motor vehicle operator with 5th Battalion.
The Marines are taught to get out of the area as quickly as possible if their convoy is hit by an IED or by other enemy fire while going through an urban environment.
“If a vehicle is hit and it cannot operate anymore, we must set up security around the convoy until we can get that vehicle operational or the Marines that were in it to safety,” Nepomuceno said.
The Marines of Motor Transport Platoon , better known as ‘Motor T’, operate the M1123 (hummer) and the 7-ton MK23. The 5,500 lb. hummers are used for patrols and getting from one place to another quickly. The seven ton is used for transportation of up to 16 Marines and supplies.
“The vehicles can be intimidating at first but once you learn to control them, operating them is as easy as riding a bike,” said Evans, a Tampa Bay, Fla., native who will be deploying early next year. “We are always training to keep our abilities driving the vehicles sharp.”
Marines becoming motor vehicle operators go through a six-week military occupational specialty school. There, they are taught different aspects of the vehicles they will operate in support of a wide variety of missions throughout their military careers.
“The Marines must have 250 driving miles to qualify for a license for both vehicles and to graduate their MOS school,” Nepomuceno said.
After the Marines finish school and are assigned to their units throughout the world, they train daily to hone their skills in operating these massive vehicles.