Photo Information

CAMP AL QA'IM, Iraq (April 11, 2005)- Lance Cpl. Robert L. Roth, a vehicle mechanic with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team-2 fixes the drive shaft on a high mobility multi-wheeled vehicle here. The Duncannon, Pa., native explained that transmissions giving out due to the extra weight of the vehicles is the biggest problem they fix out here. Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel (RELEASED)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

3/2 mechanic keeps battalion running

15 Jul 2005 | Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

As night falls on Western Iraq and the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment line up and wash their hands for dinner, you notice one Marine’s hands are dirtier than his comrades’. The dirt and oil cover up the scrapes and cuts on his hands and he appears completely exhausted. That’s because Lance Cpl. Robert L. Roth is responsible for keeping the battalion’s vehicles safely on the road, which can be a day and night task. The Duncannon, PA., native spends most of the day underneath a truck dealing with and fixing common vehicle problems caused by the rough driving in a combat zone. “Fixing transmissions is the worst problem caused by the armoring though. They can not withstand the weight, and the best way we can deal with it is to replace parts,” Roth said. Roth, one of the few Marines deployed with the short-handed infantry battalion, received some relief from his busy schedule when he was joined by mechanics from the Marine reserve unit, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, out of Jackson, Miss. According to Roth, being joined by the reservists was a good thing because of the importance of having mechanics. “Basically, if we didn’t have these trucks out here people wouldn’t be as safe as they could be; they’d have to walk. If we weren’t out here to fix brakes people wouldn’t be able to stop and if we weren’t here to make sure the truck is running properly then Marines would be stranded outside the wire,” he explained. Roth realizes his worth as a mechanic and explains how he became one by chance when he joined the Corps. “I joined when I was 25, because I wanted a change. I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I worked with concrete before I joined, but didn’t know what I wanted to do in the Corps so I signed an open contract. After I got out of recruit training, I found out I was going to be a mechanic,” he explained. Roth decided there was only one place for him in the Marine Corps after mechanic’s school; an infantry battalion. “I wanted to be with the grunts, because the infantry runs the Marine Corps. They go out and do the things you read and hear about. Everybody else is just supporting them and that’s why we’re here. I wanted to be as close to them as possible,” he explained. Being with the infantry and supporting their operations brought Roth closer to seeing how the Corps works and gave him a chance to develop a connection with his fellow Marines within the battalion. He is getting the chance to see how the other side of the world works and he enjoys bonding with people he otherwise might not have met. “Getting closer to everyone in the battalion is something I enjoy out here. There are a lot of good guys in this unit I might never get to see after this, but we were given the opportunity to meet each other and learn about the others’ life back home,” he explained. Even though Roth is enjoying his time deployed, he is looking forward to getting back to his fiancé, Brandy. “We are going to get married when I get back, so I really can’t wait to get home. But while I’m out here I’m going to take in the experience,” he said.