UNDISCLOSED LOCATION --
Eager to give back to the country that provided his family so many opportunities, Marine Cpl. Ernesto VegaHernandez was like most Marines when they enter the Marine Corps - eager to deploy.
Three years into his enlistment, and after supporting various units and training exercises, the Florida native is currently forward deployed in Southwest Asia as a motor transportation mechanic with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.
Vega is part of a select group of motor transportation mechanics and communications maintainers who conducted joint limited technical inspections of recently refurbished Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, and the lighter version--MATV or Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle. The vehicles are being shipped to Iraq, where Marines are supporting Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. These vehicles are the Marines’ only protection against improvised explosive devices.
“I thought I would be doing just another LTI, but the fact that I get to inspect these vehicles and ensure that these Marines will have the best vehicles to use, is something more than just showing up to work and turning a wrench. It actually might save a life,” said Vega, whose parents moved him to the U.S. from Cuba as a child because of the required service in the Cuban Armed Forces.
“A base or outpost with MATVs gives the commander, and his security forces, mobile, armored assets that can repel an assault,” said 1st Lt. Damali Brimm, of Brooklyn, N.Y. These “like-new” vehicles give Marines, often located at remote combat outposts, the ability to conduct defensive mobile actions in the event of a complex enemy attack, he said.
According to Brimm, a supply officer, the vehicle reset was directed by Marine Corps Logistics Command to ensure that all MATVs in the Marine Corps inventory have the required survivability upgrades and modifications.
“It is definitely a little surreal,” said Vega of finally getting the opportunity to serve with the unit, whose mission as the 911-Force in the Central Command area of responsibility spans 20 countries.
The vehicles are often pre-positioned reducing reaction time and eliminating the need to otherwise deploy this equipment from locations in the continental United States, with all the attendant burdens on strategic lift that this would entail, according to the U.S. Marine Corps Concepts and Programs project.