RAWAH, Iraq -- Far up the beaten dirt road, the front of the ten-vehicle motor transport convoy was barely visible through the fog-like sand hanging in the air.
The Marines had already been driving for about eight hours. Their route took them to three cities in the Al Anbar Province, about 150 miles northwest of Baghdad, bringing supplies to Marines separated from the majority of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
“Pretty much every day we’re on the road,” said Cpl. Ronald Lewis, a 22-year-old motor transport operator. “We bring out supplies, food, drinks, ammo and equipment.”
By 4 p.m., they had been working for eight hours and already completed what the majority of Americans would consider a normal work day. But, they weren’t done yet.
While conducting a patrol in armored humvees around Anah, a city of roughly 20,000 where the ‘Motor-T’ convoy had just resupplied about 120 Marines, a team of combat engineers had run over a hidden improvised explosive device which destroyed the front of their vehicle.
No one was seriously injured, but the Motor-T Marines were now responsible for transporting the destroyed vehicle.
Several hours later, after they used their equipment to load up the damaged humvee, and were set to head back “home,” another call to move a vehicle came in.
“Well, sometimes that’s what happens,” said Lewis, a Clinton, Tenn., native. “You just have to be able to work around the clock.”
They might have long, busy days, but the team of roughly 40 motor transport Marines here seem to take a certain pride in their job.
Motor-T is the link between the infantry Marines who conduct daily security operations and the rest of the battalion. While some U.S. Forces in Iraq enjoy access to military stores to buy goods, internet access and daily “mail call,” in this remote part of the Al Anbar Province many infantry Marines go weeks at a time without these luxuries.
Through their constant convoys, Motor-T helps do the legwork that takes care of their Marines who live “in the field.”
But the responsibility comes with its risks.
“Obviously, when you’re on the road, you’re going to be susceptible to IED attacks and small arms fire,” said 2nd Lt. Jose Guevara, the 30-year-old motor transport officer. “But, dealing with all the heavy equipment, we also have to supervise and make sure that everyone’s safe.”
Maintaining safety and completing their job could be a difficult business, said Guevara, a Victoria, Texas, native. However, the job runs smoothly due to the work of his enlisted noncommissioned officers, many of whom are on their second deployment, and his junior Marines who, he says, “have really stepped up and taken on a lot of responsibility.”
Their hard work and attention to detail is important, Guevara said, because as cliché as the term “complacency kills” might have become to service members in Iraq, it’s the truth.
“We know what to expect and we’re prepared for it,” said Guevara. “It’s almost the same thing over and over, but you can’t let your guard down.”
“Every time you leave the wire, you have to act like it’s the first time,” he said.