MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. - One of the largest Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialties recognized its finest technician during an awards ceremony held at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, July 12.
In an occupational field, which contains almost 15,000 Marines, Cpl. Lucas Matte, a motor transportation technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 (MWSS-273), was awarded the Marine Corps Motor Transport Association’s 2012 Motor Transport Technician of the Year Award, placing above all his peers for his superior performance throughout the past year.
Matte, a native of Church Point, La., was recognized for his superior technical proficiency and vast mechanical aptitude which strengthened the squadron’s ability to successfully execute unhindered mounted operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March 2012 to September 2012.
The motor transport company commander, Capt. Park Paige, was first introduced to Matte when Paige required someone with technical proficiency to maintain and repair 20 pressure washers that were essential in the retrograde of over 2 million square feet of aluminum runway matting for expeditionary air fields.
“[Matte] is a very proficient Marine and very humble about it,” said Paige, a native of Chicago. “He was instrumental in multiple operations in Afghanistan.”
Prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2010, Matte became familiar with the mechanics of engines and equipment through maintaining and repairing his family and friends’ vehicles.
“Before the Marine Corps I built trailers, fabricated, fixed and performed preventative maintenance on 18-wheelers, did small jobs with friends and built performance cars,” said Matte. “I’m a very hands-on person; fixing stuff is just my thing.”
Matte’s expertise originated from harsher times when his family had no choice but to take on maintenance issues themselves.
“My dad left us when I was younger, it was just my mom and brother when I was growing up,” said the 21-year-old Marine. “I needed to get to school and work after school to keep bills paid and food on the table, so I had to keep my truck running because it was too far away to walk. So if something broke down I had to learn how to fix it.”
Without any technical training, Matte educated himself in the mechanics of engines among other skills.
“Where I come from either you fix it yourself or it stays broke,” said Matte. “I learned by taking stuff apart and putting it back together, everything from fixing houses to fixing engines and fixing cars.”
“There’s no truck that he can’t fix,” said Master Sgt. Aaron Vescovi, MWSS-273’s motor transport maintenance chief. “Anything that has an engine, he will go out there and work on it, any job you give him he will get done.”
While deployed, Matte’s know-how proved essential in MWSS-273’s readiness by assisting in maintaining a motor transport readiness above 93 percent throughout the whole deployment.
“It was high tempo, the squadron was going out on convoys all the time,” said Vescovi, a native of Saratoga, N.Y. “He easily put in 19-hour days and wouldn’t leave until somebody told him to go home, even then he would still be reluctant to leave.”
A large part of what he knows in the Marine Corps is due to his leadership, said Matte.
They harvested what he already knew to get him to the point where he would move on to learn on his own.
Matte was promoted to his current rank in February and has since completed follow-on training courses in California.
MWSS-273’s mission is to provide all essential aviation ground support to a designated fixed-wing component of a Marine Aviation Combat Element, and all supporting or attached elements of the Marine Air Control Group.