MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Wearing flak’s and Kevlar’s, they load into a humvee and set out along the mainside ridgeline, receiving more than just the knowledge of how to be an entry level field radio operator, but learning how to operate a humvee.
In August, the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School started a 10-day program where students could receive their humvee license, in garrison or on overseas deployments.
“Students are eligible after we ensure they have a valid license and an updated physical screening,” said MCCES instructor Staff Sgt. William Mordelle.
The average class size is 25-35 students, and the bigger classes can range from 45-55 students. The course covers several areas the students must pass to receive a valid license.
“After they have passed all the requirements they have to pass a 50-question multiple choice test,” said Mordelle. “Then they have to drive 250 road miles.”
The general opinion of the class was excitement, as students expressed that they enjoyed the time away from the classroom and being behind the wheel.
“It’s fun to drive early in the morning,” said Pfc. Michael Trznadel, Field Radio Operator’s Course 37. “It’s a good bonding time.”
Following the 250 road miles, students move into what many say is the hardest part of the course: the limited visibility portion.
“This is where they drive the humvee with the cat eye lights from 9 p.m. until completion, or midnight until completion,” said Mordelle.
While some struggled with the limited visibility, others lucked out and said the full moon helped a lot on their drive.
The next portion of the class was the eight-mile, off-road course, driving up hills and through ditches and ravines.
“The off-road part of the course was fun going up and down the hills,” said Pfc. Andrew Pollock, FROC 37. “It’s nice to have the opportunity of learning to drive the humvee.”
One of the final portions is the skills test, in which the student must show their ability to drive in a straight line and reverse along the same line. They must also execute a smooth stop while driving 20 miles per hour.
“The skills test was hardest for me, driving the straight line back,” said Trznadel. “I’m short, so it’s hard to see out the mirror while reversing. Otherwise, it feels just like driving a car.”
Along with operating a humvee, a student must learn the basics of maintenance and insuring it remains operable.
“They complete a preventive maintenance check so we can make sure they know where certain things are,” said Mordelle. “They make sure the lugs on the tires are good, check the oil and make sure there is water, a fuel can and safety triangles in the back.”
The class has proven to be successful and has gained popularity with each class.
“It’s a good program,” said Mordelle. “It was kind of hectic getting the ball rolling. The program is going to benefit a lot of Marines and help meet mission requirement, whether it be overseas or here. I feel confident that the Marines learning the course hold the knowledge of the radio and operating a humvee.”