AL ASAD, Iraq -- A Marine dons his body armor and straps a Kevlar helmet over his head. He’s ready to go on the road, armed with the knowledge that he and his Marines are protected with newly installed vehicle armor.
Motor vehicle mechanics with Maintenance Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), engage in a humvee armor modification project in support of Regimental Combat Team 7 and CLB-1.
The Marine Corps has increased the strength of the protective plating on vehicles since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The upgraded doors help protect servicemembers against fragmentation from the blast of an improvised explosive device.
The some of the newly added armor also maximizes the possibility for vehicles to continue down the road after an IED strike, said Sgt. Christopher C. Herslip, 24, maintenance chief of the Frag-5 project and native of Deering, N.D.
“It helps sustain more of an impact from an IED to protect Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jesse Leal, 37, company gunnery sergeant of Maintenance Company and a Los Banos, Calif., native. “It helps the four Marines and the gunner come back (to base) safe.”
The armor modification team says they work diligently to provide the Marines on the front lines with the protection they deserve.
Some humvees are arriving in Iraq with the armor kits already installed; the Marines at CLB-1 ensure the rest are upgraded to the same level of protection. The team is also making modifications to the vehicles already on hand, some of which have been damaged already.
“When we receive damaged humvees, the door has to be fitted precisely on the frame even when it’s bent,” said Lance Cpl. Eric R. Sparkman, 21, a motor vehicle mechanic with Maintenance Company and a Lawrenceburg, Ky. native. “Sometimes it could take hours to do just one humvee, but one way or another that armor is going on.”
After reaching a daily goal modifying five or six humvees, the Marines come back the next morning to pick up from where they left off. According to them, the large work load makes it a tough job, but their hard work has its rewards.
“It’s a tough job, but I know we’re here to do a job to help protect the Marines in that humvee,” said Lance Cpl. Dylan B. Hiller, 24, a motor vehicle mechanic with Maintenance Company and a native of Corfu, N.Y. “That’s the most rewarding factor about being out here.”