CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Motor Transport Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, have a distinct and important role keeping the coalition forces with Regional Command (Southwest) mobilized aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
“Our job is to provide motor transport support to our battalion, but here we also support the task force since they don’t have their own motor transport section,” said Gunnery Sgt. Stephen S. Galinski, motor transport chief, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. “We operate vehicles and heavy equipment, conduct vehicle maintenance and logistics runs, and any kind of utilities maintenance that needs to get done comes through us first. We are also responsible for the recovery mission for the task force, so 24/7 we have wrecker operators on standby to recover any broken down or damaged vehicles and equipment.”
The motor transport Marines not only work and assist fellow Marine units with maintenance and transportation, but the British, Georgian and Jordanian forces as well. While supporting these coalition forces that make up RC(SW), the unit is also conducting a second mission: retrograding vehicles home.
“It is one of the easier things for us to do because we have advance notice of what vehicles and how many we need to turn in,” said Galinski, a native of Philadelphia. “It takes approximately two weeks to prep the vehicles to be retrograded back to the States.”
All the vehicles are cleaned, inside and out, and then fluids and fuel are drained to a safe level before being retrograded.
“We came out here with enough guys just to support the infantry battalion, now we are also working for everyone else on the base,” said Galinski. “We are doing the same work with fewer vehicles, but the Marines are doing a great job. They take a lot of pride in their work. They work long, hard hours, but they are getting the mission accomplished.”
Lance Cpl. Zachary Graybill, a motor transport mechanic with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, is one of the mechanics responsible for ensuring the vehicles run properly and effectively in order to complete the mission.
“The vehicles break down a lot from the wear and tear of the terrain here,” said Graybill, a native of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. “We have to make sure we keep the vehicles running, because without these trucks being able to operate and drive, the mission can’t be carried out.”
Although the unit is small in comparison to the mission they are supporting, the Marines’ unwavering dedication to their job keeps RC(SW) mobilized and meeting the tasks at hand.
“We put in a lot of work and hours to make sure these vehicles get fixed as soon as possible,” said Graybill. “This is our job, and I like doing my job. I like working on trucks. Whatever I put my hands on I can pretty much fix, and that is how most of the guys in our shop are. We take a lot of pride in what we are doing.”
Lance Cpl. Darrius Arnold, a hazardous material noncommissioned officer with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, is responsible for keeping track and maintaining hazardous materials when adding or removing them from the vehicles.
“With us retrograding vehicles out of here, we have to be careful with the fluids and hazardous material we are using, removing or transporting,” said Arnold, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia. “I have to keep track of the materials and dispose of them properly.
“We are really like a Jiffy Lube here for the units,” said Arnold. “They bring the vehicles to us and we return the vehicles to them in better condition that we received it.”
Since the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, arrived in Afghanistan during May, they have transported more than 40,000 gallons of fuel, retrograded 45 vehicles and completed 458 equipment repair orders.