PATROL BASE GHERDAI, Afghanistan — At the southern tip of Afghanistan against the constant threat of insurgents, dust storms and triple-digit heat, the Marines of 1st Combat Engineer Battalion build forward operating bases for the Afghan Border Police.
To support the battalion’s austere mission, Cpl. Christopher K. Wood, the sole heavy equipment mechanic at the newly built patrol base maintains and repairs the six heavy equipment vehicles that enable the combat engineers to do their job here.
“The heavy equipment we have lets us build these FOBs in a matter of days, if they go down, these builds could take weeks.” said Wood a Jackson, Mich., native. “Some of the repairs just take a few minutes, but if we have to have a part shipped in it could take days, but it will get fixed.”
For Wood, serving his country by joining the Marine Corps almost five years ago was an easy decision to get out of his unfulfilling job.
“I wanted a renewed purpose in my life,” the 30-year-old Wood said. “I wasn’t really progressing in my job as a truck driver and I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to be part of the toughest force.”
Wood drew from his past experiences with diesel engines to become a heavy equipment mechanic and since he made that decision he has never looked back.
“I like working with my hands,” Wood said. “There’s a variety of vehicles I’ve learned to work on and the training opportunities are always there and I’m always trying to learn more.”
Sgt. Earl Hewett, squad leader, 1st CEB attached to 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, has known Wood for more than four years and has watched him grow as a Marine and a leader during that time.
“He’s a hard-charger. If you need anything fixed, he’s right on it,” Hewett said. “If we have a lull in the workload out here, he’ll just keep asking what else he can do to help.”
As Wood continues on his second deployment to Afghanistan, he has his sights set on the future.
“When I decide to get out, I would like to go back to school and get my mechanical engineering degree and try to make a better, more environmentally friendly diesel engine,” Wood said. “The Marine Corps gave me the jump start to learn about this and now that I do, I’d like to continue this for the rest of my career.”