CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Musty diesel fumes fill the air as 7-ton trucks maneuver through an obstacle course. Meanwhile, sweaty, greasy Marines work hard to change the tires on a Humvee as others rush to disassemble and reassemble the rear of a 7-ton.
Marines with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, organized a truck rodeo for multiple motor transport units stationed on Okinawa Dec. 9-10 on Camp Kinser to promote team work and proficiency.
“This event was organized to take time to remember the basics of motor transport,” said Col. David Nathanson, the operations officer for 3rd MLG, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We also want to foster camaraderie between the motor transport Marines across the island.”
The rodeo involved three timed portions including driving a 7-ton through an obstacle course, changing tires, and disassembling and reassembling the rear of a 7-ton.
While a flak, Kevlar and gloves may hinder mobility or slow down procedures, the Marines know it is critical to train while wearing the combat essentials and did so throughout the event, according to Sgt. Matthew V. Boyd, a motor transport dispatcher with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base, Camp Butler Japan.
“It’s a lot easier to operate with no (personal protective equipment), but that’s not mission effective,” said Boyd, from Gardnerville, Nevada. “You’re going to be wearing PPE in a combat zone and (the enemy) isn’t going to wait for you to take it off to do something.”
The large gathering of motor transport Marines allowed for a sharing of knowledge and unique perspectives that otherwise may not have been discovered, according to Nathanson.
“We’re testing so that we can determine whether or not there are better procedures in doing things,” said Nathanson, from Jackson, New Jersey. “We are trying to come up with creative solutions.”
Apart from testing motor transport skills and operating procedures, the event increased camaraderie between motor transport units on Okinawa, according to Nathanson.
“It’s different driving with other motor transport operators, rather than just practicing at the motor pool,” said Cpl. Luke E. Heilig, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and a motor transport operator with Headquarters Regiment, 3rd MLG.
The rodeo was a lot of fun, according to Boyd, who said he would love to participate in future gatherings.
“This event allows you to really shine in your skills within our military occupation specialty,” said Boyd. “It would be nice to see more things like this. It’s entertaining to be around other motor pools.”