TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Amphibious Assault Vehicles crewmen drive the vehicles that transport Marines from ship to shore in the amphibious attacks the Marine Corps is famous for.
“Being a ‘tracker’ is something unlike any other,” said Sgt. Joshua Pierce, a crew chief with Amphibious Assault Platoon, Combat Service Support Company, The Basic School. “We are what makes the Marine Corps unique. No other service has an amphibious unit. No one else in the Corps does what we do. So yeah, we know we’re hot stuff.”
Amphibious Assault Vehicle units have a unique mission. They are tasked with land-based missions that range from supply and unit transport, to supporting fire positions and casualty evacuation capabilities on land and sea.
“Throughout history “tracks” were the difference in winning battles,” said Sgt. James Davis, a crew chief with AAP, CSS Company “We’re taught early on in our [military occupational specialty] training to be proud of the Marines before us, and uphold the tradition of our MOS.”
To ensure missions are accomplished without a flaw, trackers are up hours before inspecting and prepping their vehicles.
“There is a little pressure at first,” said Cpl. Andrew Downs, an AAV operator, AAP, CSS Company “You have Marines’ lives as your cargo. You really have to know what you’re doing to make sure none of your guys get hurt.”
“After the missions are completed, and everyone else is relaxing, we’re still out there hosing down our tracks and doing maintenance work on them,” Pierce added.
Although there is a lot of work, the load is spread evenly among the platoon.
“We look out for each other. We’re more than family. It’s difficult to explain,” Davis said. “We have a saying in our field, ‘YATYAS’ which, to us means, if you aren’t tracks, then you’ll never understand.”
Most trackers who come to AAP, CSS Company, have deployed together, making their bonds even stronger.
“With day-to-day operations and deployments added up, I’ve spent more time with these guys here than I do with my own family.” Davis said. “We all make sacrifices in the Marine Corps, but that’s what defines us.”
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This work, Corps leaves its mark with 'Tracks', by Sgt Emmanuel Ramos, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.