FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Helmand province - Marines from 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment’s, Motor Transport Platoon don’t accept failure. They have been heavily relied upon throughout 1/9’s deployment to provide motorized logistics and personnel support and have built a reputation within their battalion for consistently getting the job done.
The platoon performs an array of tasks: providing supplies to patrol bases throughout the unit’s area of operations, vehicle maintenance for the battalion, and retrieving downed vehicles on the battlefield, among other things. These Marines work extremely hard every day to provide the support necessary for the unit’s success.
“The Marines, they don’t complain,” said Frederick, Md., native 1st Lt. George A. Ivascu, the officer in charge of the Motor Transport Platoon. “They push forward, and they always have a good attitude, whether it’s a 20-hour day because they’re stuck outside the (base with an improvised explosive device) (while explosive ordinance disposal Marines) come take care of it so (the Marines) can move on and continue to resupply the battalion, or a 10-hour day, which is more typical.”
The Marines push out on daily convoys, sometimes taking their trucks on multiple missions per day.
"Today, a mission went out and the Marines won’t be back until tomorrow. The last time we did that, the other log train went out on three missions in about six hours,” said Ivascu regarding a recent day’s assignment. “They (often) conduct multiple missions simultaneously. In addition, we also support the battalion in any recovery requirements, whether it’s IED-related or not; however, we do all non-IED related recoveries internal to our logistics convoy.”
The platoon also provides daily maintenance for the battalion’s fleet of armored trucks. The Marines even set aside one day each week specifically for vehicle maintenance. On these days, the maintenance Marines are almost guaranteed to be working day and night on the trucks.
“That’s when everybody in the company comes in and we spend all day working on trucks.” said Wewahitchka, Fla., native Sgt. Billy Yon, the maintenance chief for Motor Transport Platoon. “Our main goal is to help everybody out. Our biggest thing is to keep the companies mobilized, have their trucks ready when they need them.”
The Marines within the platoon have a wide array of individual responsibilities, and all depend on each other to accomplish their mission. Every piece of the platoon’s puzzle must be in place for it to be successful. The Marines have rallied together as a team through hard work and consistency during their deployment.
The chemistry between the Marines is especially impressive because a large portion of the platoon for the deployment came from Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Force Generating Element).
“For half of us, we’re not 1/9 proper, we’re attachments from Truck Company, so we’re coming in to a new situation,” said Newark, N.J., native Lance Cpl. Ardrain Haines, a wrecker operator with Motor Transport Platoon. “As far as a whole motor-T section, we’ve all come together out here. We have a bond.”
These Marines said they rise to the daily challenges because they believe in each other and love what they do. They don’t fail because they don’t know how to fail.
“We have a point to prove out here,” said Haines, a graduate of Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J. “We know the mission needs to get accomplished and that takes priority, so there’s no room for failure.”
Editor’s note: First Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
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This work, Failure not an option for motor transport Marines in Helmand, by Cpl Tommy Bellegarde, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.