CAMP RIPPER, Iraq -- As the sun cooks the pavement on another hot Iraqi day, a Marine with grease covered hands slides out from under a massive tank after working to repair broken parts.
Lance Cpl. Jonathan M. Griffith, a M-1A1 Abrams main battle tank repair technician and tank crewman with Headquarters Platoon, Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, works two jobs to ensure that the unit’s tanks stay operational.
“I maintain the headquarters tanks, fixing any maintenance problems they might have,” Griffith said.
As a crewman, Griffith also goes out on missions in the tanks.
“Back before we came over, the four senior mechanics from the company went to different platoons as crewman,” he explained
The 20-year-old Marine works hard to maintain efficiency in two military occupational specialties.
“Sometimes it is hard to juggle between both of them. Tankers and mechanics kind of butt heads a lot, there is a fine line. I have to be able to work with the tankers and still keep my mechanical ties,” Griffith stated.
The Idaho Falls, Idaho native is on his first deployment with 1st Tanks.
“It is slow at times, but it is exciting to go out on missions,” the Idaho Falls High School graduate said. “On missions we mostly support grunt battalions and we travel to Haditha and Hit a lot to support different companies.”
As a tanker, Griffith also performs security escorts, medical evacuation escorts and serves as a member of the quick reaction force.
His role as a tank crewman puts him closer to the action than his job as a mechanic normally would have. On his first patrol supporting Iraqi Security Forces an improvised explosive device exploded next to his tank.
“It knocked me and the commanding officer down into the turret. The executive officer’s tank then engaged four enemy snipers from about 600 meters with the tank’s main gun,” Griffith explained. “That was the first time we took enemy contact.”
Though the life of a tank crewman is exciting, Griffith still enjoys being a mechanic and working on tanks.
“I love getting dirty and greasy, working with tools and being able to make things work,” he said.
According to Griffith, his time working in the two jobs gave him a better understanding of the relationship between tankers and mechanics.
“I couldn’t do my job without the crewman that I work with. We are all vital to each other,” Griffith said.