CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq -- Odd lights can be seen and noises can be heard daily while walking by the converted train depot where the Motor Transportation platoon with Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, starts their daily grind of fixing vehicles before the orange glow begins rising over the desert horizon. The Motor Transportation Marines, or Motor T, work diligently, keeping TF 1/4's vehicles running safely across Al Qa’im.
“We stay really busy,” said Sgt. Daniel Garza, a motor transportation chief with Motor Transportation Platoon, H&S Company, TF 1/4. “There’s always work to be done.”
Garza, along with five other mechanics, repairs all kinds of Humvee parts such as radiators, belts, air conditioning systems, and interior and exterior vehicle cosmetics.
“We are receiving a lot more trucks wanting their AC units fixed while the temperatures begin to rise,” Garza said.
The AC units keep the Marines cool inside their vehicles when the sun bakes Iraq at 110 degrees, but the units are also very important in keeping electronics running smoothly during missions.
“Good AC keeps Marines happy and happy Marines work harder,” said Cpl. Joshua Zieber, a motor transportation mechanic with Motor Transportation Platoon, H&S Company, TF 1/4.
The trucks stay cool inside but there isn’t even a breeze in the building as sweat, mixed with dirt runs down the mechanic’s faces while the afternoon temperatures rise.
“Our days start early and we usually work about 12 to 13 hour days,” Garza said. “But if stuff is pending, we will work 24 hours non-stop.”
Vehicle repairs are placed into three echelons. Preventive Maintenance, or PM, is the first echelon. This is completed by the vehicle owner consisting of tire repair, vehicle washing and fluid replacement.
Mechanics from the TF fix vehicles in the second echelon.
“I’m responsible for vehicle inductions,” said Cpl. Jean Vazquez, Quality Control Noncommissioned Officer with Motor Transportation Platoon, H&S Company, TF 1/4. “I make sure the vehicles actually need maintenance.”
Vazquez, along with his fellow mechanics, have a tight schedule consisting of scheduled repairing in addition to urgent repairs needing maintenance that same day.
“When they need maintenance, I find out if we can fix it or if it’s third echelon,” Vazquez said. “Third echelon repair is something large like engine replacement, and that’s completed by Combat Logistics Battalion 2.”
Vehicle drivers enjoy the streamlined efficiency of the motor transportation mechanics and appreciate the hard work put into each day’s work.
“Motor T here is great at fixing vehicles,” said Cpl. Daniel Perez, a food service specialist and up-gunner for Personal Security Detachment, H&S Company, TF 1/4. “Our vehicle was leaking fluids, and it was fixed in less than an hour.”
The mechanics are not only craftsmen in the shop, but they can also quickly fix problems while on convoys.
“Whenever they can’t fully fix a problem right away, they are good at temporarily fixing it, so we can safely get to our destination,” Perez said.
Deciding what vehicle is second echelon and repairing vehicles isn’t the only task for the mechanics.
“I also instruct Marines and Iraqi Army how to properly maintain their vehicles,” Vazquez said.
The Iraqi Army drive hummers similar to the Marines and even with preventive maintenance, they still need serious repairs. “Marine mechanics help us put the vehicles together and teach us how to fix them,” said Cpl. Katham Jeballah, a mechanic with Headquarters Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 7th Iraqi Army Brigade.
Lights flickered on inside the old train depot while the sun set in the horizon. Darkness filled Camp Al Qa’im while the Marines of Motor T tirelessly worked into the night.
"Trucks get busted on convoys and our shop makes sure the vehicle is ready for the next convoy,” Vazquez said, “whatever it takes.”