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Members of Motor Transport Maintenance Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group conduct a tandem tow to recover a 7-ton from a steep decline at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 10.

Photo by Cpl. Michele L. Watson

Chain gang: Wreckers train to recover vehicles in desert terrain

10 Aug 2011 | Cpl. Michele Watson

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Improvised explosive devices are the number one threat in the war in Afghanistan, and as a result, vehicle recovery becomes a highly-necessary task to recover lost vehicles that become immobilized by attacks.
Members of Motor Transport Maintenance Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, took to the hills of Camp Pendleton to practice vehicle recovery operations, Aug. 10.
During the exercise, members were given multiple scenarios that required creative-thinking skills to accomplish the quickest recovery of the downed vehicles.
“Every exercise we do a different scenario, any type we can think of,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Brown, maintenance chief with Motor Transport Maintenance Company, 1st Main. Bn., CLR-15, 1st MLG. “What we have seen overseas ourselves, we bring back and teach the young Marines so they know how to safely conduct recoveries when they go in theater.”
The Marines recovered a rolled over Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle and conducted a tandem tow. The MRAP, which was no longer drivable, was used as an empty hull to provide accurate training to the wrecker operators.
Cpl. Raul C. Acosta, the lead wrecker instructor, has trained with Marines, Afghans, Estonians and British Marines, acquiring skills to recover vehicles in any situation.
“I can recover any vehicle in any place, anywhere,” said Acosta, 32, from Miami. “It doesn’t matter how messed up, blown up or disabled the vehicle is, nothing can stop me from recovering it. I learned all my ways and all the tricks from working with all those people.”
Though the training was aimed at the wrecker operators, the mechanics were present to ensure the process ran smoothly. Without mechanics to make sure the trucks were up to par, the wreckers might break down and would no longer be reliable.
“They are moving fast, they have good communication and they’re doing everything they are supposed to be doing,” said Acosta. “They aren’t letting other people get in their way or tell them what to do.”
The Marines accomplished the recovery of the overturned MRAP and 7-ton even though it was placed at the bottom of a steep decline. Utilizing all of their safety precautions, the wreckers recovered both vehicles, gaining more experience that will aid them on their next deployment.
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