News: Midnight reaping: CLR-2 wreckers complete on-the-spot recovery
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - More than 20 heavily armored vehicles lumbered through the dark on a homeward journey through Helmand province.
After nearly 24 hours of continuous operations, the convoy of Marines with Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Regional Command (Southwest), crept through the desert as they closed within two miles of their final destination and a night of secure rest.
The glow from Camp Leatherneck barely came into view when the radio hissed to life in the predawn hours of July 26. A broken mine roller had forced one of the vehicles to drop out of the convoy.
The main body pressed forward as a handful of armored vehicles peeled off and formed a protective ring around the vehicle. Wrecker operators from within the convoy itself mounted the damaged mine roller. Working beneath the glow of their truck lights, the Marines began rigging the broken equipment to the boom-arm of their recovery truck.
Vehicle 22 hunkered down at the very rear of the caravan, blocking the road heading towards the downed equipment. Cpl. Kenneth Benton, a Greensboro, N.C., native, stared into the dark from his position behind the truck’s M-240 machine gun.
The Marines warded off exhaustion as the ground crew painstakingly hoisted the damaged mine roller onto a flatbed truck.
It was the first mission for many of the Marines with Transportation Support Company, which recently realigned with fresh personnel from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to continue to support logistical operations in Helmand province. By 3 a.m., an ever-thickening stream of headlights moved on Vehicle 22 and the wrecker crew beyond.
Defusing a potentially dangerous situation, Benton waved off the oncoming traffic and shifted the congestion away from the otherwise vulnerable work crew.
The recovery operation continued past sunrise, complicated by the precarious positioning of the downed vehicle. The Marines managed to hoist the damaged equipment onto their truck before another rush of early-morning traffic descended on their position.
More than a day after prepping their vehicles to depart Camp Leatherneck, the security contingent rolled back into a convoy formation and reentered the base’s perimeter.
Visible signs of relief came over an exhausted Benton as he finally released the tension in his body.
The unexpected happened. Up until the moment they passed through the base’s gates, the Marines knew it still could. The fatigue of constant vigilance took its toll but awarded the convoy crew in kind. What could have turned into a tense standoff on an isolated road ended without conflict.