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Photo Information

Hadithah Dam, Al Anbar, Iraq.-- Cpl. Anthony J. DeSarro attaches a tow bar to a 7-ton truck. These trucks are used to carry personnel, mail, and other heavy cargo such as sheets of wood. Due to their larger size, they offer better protection from mines and improvised explosive devices. (Photo by LCpl. Marc Fencil. )

Photo by Lance Cpl. Marc Fencil

Motor T rolls out in support of 3/25

14 Jun 2005 | Lance Cpl. Marc Fencil

Some Marines with 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines, were sorely disappointed at firing their last artillery round. These hardened warriors are now newly minted motor transport Marines supporting 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. Headquarters and Echo Batteries from Jackson, Miss., changed jobs from artillerymen to vehicle operators when they arrived here. Maj. Christopher S. Moeller, 34, is the officer in charge of the motor transport section. The Dallas, Texas, native’s responsibilities include supervising maintenance and movement between the two motor pools at Camp Haditha and Hit. “A lot of people think that Motor T’s job is just to drive from point A to point B. There’s a lot of planning that we do before any vehicle goes anywhere,” reminded Moeller. A confirmation brief is held before every convoy to discuss everything from weather conditions and vehicle speeds to immediate action plans in case the Marines encounter improvised explosive devices or direct enemy fire. The Marines usually run several motor transport convoys every week. These include transporting detainees to Al Asad, small group travel and vehicle recovery. Coordination among sections the day prior is essential for effective pickup and delivery of cargo. Transporting mail, repair parts, and personnel are just a few of their responsibilities. Motor transport is perhaps the most self-sufficient operation in Iraq. Not only are the Marines responsible for maintaining their own equipment, they provide their own convoy security as well. “We weren’t here a week before it became obvious that motor transport would have to provide its own security,” said Moeller. A convoy security attachment was devised to serve as a safety escort. Most of the security personnel are Marines from the artillery batteries. “They’re perfect for this role because they have no preconceived notions of motor transport and they have that combat arms mentality,” explained Moeller. The security attachments are equipped with heavy weapons capable of eliminating threats encountered on the road. The escort emulates the Weapons Company Mobile Assault Platoons that tirelessly patrol the main security routes. Since many of the Marines’ experience lies in fields other than motor transport, Moeller made sure they would be ready for Iraq’s most dangerous province. In addition to weapons and communication training, the Marines spent weeks getting used to driving utilizing night vision goggles before deploying. “It’s harder to spot improvised explosive devices at night, but it’s a tradeoff because it’s also harder for the triggerman to time the detonation because he can’t see the individual vehicles in the dark,” explained 34-year-old Sgt. Charles D. Vanvoorhis, a vehicle operator from Marion, Ohio. “We’re always vigilant for threats when we’re out on the road,” said Cpl. Anthony J. DeSarro, a vehicle operator with H&S Company. “We follow strict escalation of force procedures and we do everything we can to keep our convoys out of harm’s way,” ensured the 31-year-old reservist from North Canton, Ohio. Besides mines and IEDs, the greatest obstacle to mission success is the endless vehicle maintenance that must be performed to keep the fleet running. The problem is not with the country’s roads, but with the frequency that vehicles operate off-road. Additionally, every vehicle has some level of armor protection, which adds to the gross vehicle weight and further taxes the suspension system. “We keep rolling through ambushes, mines and IEDs,” assured Sgt. Albert R. Carvajal. “If we have the parts, they (the vehicles) are in and out in 24 hours,” said the 31-year-old shop chief from Houston, Texas. Broken vehicles can arrive in the service bay at any hour, but there are always mechanics on hand who are ready to fix the problem. “These are the type of men that I would trust to work on my own vehicle back home,” declared 3/25’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Lionel B. Urquhart. “I’m awed and humbled by their hard work ethic and ability to adapt and be flexible,” admitted Moeller. “I’d put them up against anyone in the division.”