Meet the mechanics of II MHG
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 19, 2005) -- Mechanics attached to motor transport, Headquarters Group, II MEF (Forward) are pulling more than their fair share when it comes to the War on Terrorism.
With terrorist activities targeted at military convoys, it’s important that vehicles remain in top shape for the roads of Iraq. Each part must work correctly with the next in order to help get Marines and soldiers back home safely.
The mechanics, almost all of whom worked together at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., before coming to Iraq in early March, agree that they have benefited from their deployment.
“This is my first deployment,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin A. Lantz, a 22-year-old mechanic. “I wasn’t expecting to work like this, but everything is so much more hands on. Iraq gives [me] an opportunity to become a better mechanic because there are so many vehicles out here.”
Coming to Iraq changed the mission of the group.
“Instead of filling duties or going to retirement ceremonies, these guys are learning hands on the importance of fixing a vehicle,” said Staff Sgt. Reller, maintenance chief, II MHG, II MEF (FWD).
Lantz didn’t know what to expect before arriving.
“I thought we’d be living in tents and be bored out of our mind,” he said. “Luckily, we’re not living in tents, but we’re definitely not bored. We’re really busy.”
Working on vehicles ranging from five to seven tons, M998’s and up-armored humvees, there is a wide variety of problems that arise.
“We work on the trucks at the second echelon level,” said Lantz, a Muncie, Ind., native. “That basically means that anything someone can fix on their own [privately owned vehicle], we can fix here.”
Lantz isn’t completely satisfied with his job though.
“I want to do more,” he said. “I love being a mechanic and I really want to go to school when I get back to be able to work at a higher echelon. I joined the Marine Corps to do this.”
The higher the echelon, Lantz explained, means the more a mechanic gets to do with a vehicle.
“For example,” he said, “third echelon gets to take an engine out and fourth would get to rebuild an engine. That’s what I want to do.”
Reller, a Holland, Ind. native, said the team has fixed more than 450 vehicles of various types since they’ve been here.
“Considering ‘by the book’ turnaround time is between five and 10 days, we’re doing pretty good,” he said. “We have a turnaround time of about two days.”
II MHG mechanics fix vehicles from nine different units, which can easily add up for the 20-man force.
“We work with MHG, civil affairs, military police, personal security detachment, intelligence battalion, force protection battalion, and the Iraqi Security Forces,” explained Reller. “That’s not even all of them. And we’ve kept all of our units above 90 percent readiness.”
A morale booster for the mechanics is understanding the importance of their job.
“If the trucks are messed up, more Marines die,” said Lance Cpl. Goddeau, of Ballston Spa, New York. “Then it’d be our fault.”
“We help protect lives,” said Cpl. Fletcher, a Cleveland native. “It’s just part of the job.”
Reller is proud of the work his Marines are doing.
“They’ve been doing an outstanding job,” he said. “The guys work from 8 a.m. until midnight sometimes and give 100 percent.”