FALLUJAH, Iraq -- It is 1 p.m. and the sun blasts the scorched lands below with searing 125 degree heat. Although the climate has caused air conditioning units, power generators and even hardened military vehicles to shut down, one convoy presses forward to their destination.
Vehicle operators like Lance Cpl. Romaine H. Mullings have sweat pints worth since leaving their camp this morning. This 21-year-old West Palm Beach, Fla. native and his fellow drivers aboard the fuel and water re-supply seven-ton trucks have waited since before noon along Fallujah’s roadways, while other vehicles in their convoy poured cold water on their engines to keep them running in the merciless heat.
“You’re sweating all the time in weather that’s like 120 degrees, but you know you’ve come out here for a reason,” stated Mullings, a 2003 Palm Beach Lakes Community High School graduate. “You just have to get the job done.”
Mullings is one of several motor transport Marines who serve with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, a unit currently conducting security and stability operations in and around the once-embattled city of Fallujah. Several times a week, sometimes up to three in one day, he and his teammates brave the hostile Iraqi roads to re-supply their infantry brothers-in-arms with things such as military food rations, water and diesel fuel.
Since the battalion’s infantrymen, or ‘grunts,’ live in makeshift bases throughout Fallujah and the surrounding areas, Mullings’ crew logs in dozens of miles on these log (logistics) runs.
“Basically, our mission out here is to give these guys fuel, water and whatever else they need,” Mullings explained. “They’re doing their job out here, keeping us safe from the insurgents, so in return, we support them by making sure they get the basic stuff.”
Though the battalion’s grunts live far from the lap of luxury, the logistics crew ensures they are never without the bare essentials.
“Out here, they need fuel to run their generators, and water to drink, wash their clothes, and take showers with,” Mullings stated. “Also, if a generator or one of their Humvees breakdown, we come by on our log runs to pick them up and replace them.”
According to 1st Lt. Christian Peterson, the battalion’s assistant logistics officer, log runs supply the infantrymen’s bases with an average of approximately 18,000 gallons of bulk fuel, 36,000 gallons of water, several pallets of ice and drinking water, and several hot meals every week.
“We also provide the bases with other types of logistical support, such as electrician and generator mechanic support,” Peterson continued. “In Iraq, we’ve provided everything from the standard chow and water needed to sustain the Marines, to plumber and PX (military exchange store) support. The operational tempo and fluid environment in Iraq means that the logistics section has to be especially flexible in order to adequately support the needs of infantry Marines. We work our hardest to push everything to our grunts before they need to ask for it.”
The motor ‘T’ and logistics Marines could not accomplish these re-supply missions on their own, however. The battalion’s 81mm mortars platoon, a group of 22 infantry Marines-turned-escort service, accompany Mullings’ log runs out on countless trips throughout the city.
“Eighty-ones are like our guardian angels,” Mullings stated. “They provide security by driving back and forth with us. We’d really be lost without their support.”
“They give us the flexibility to cope with changes on the battlefield and get much needed logistical support to the companies with minimal impact on them,” Peterson said, agreeing with Mullings.
Mullings and his crew will continue working hand-in-hand with these mortar men to keep their battalion’s grunts fed and fit to fight against a persistent insurgency.
“We’ll just keep supporting them while they keep supporting us,” Mullings concluded. “We’re all sweating and getting our jobs done out here for a good cause, so that in the end, we can just get back to our families safe and sound.”