MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- “My AMTRAC and I are the defenders of our country. We are the masters of gunnery. We are the saviors from the ocean.” Marines from 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division know these lines well because it comes from their AMTRAC creed.
An AMTRAC (Amphibious Tractor) is an assault amphibious vehicle used to provide the necessary transportation of troops from land to sea, and vice versa. Not only do AAV operators bring Marines where they need to go, but they can also fight alongside their brothers-in-arms.
“My job is very important; I know that for a fact,” said Lance Cpl. Jorge De Jesus, an AAV operator with Company A, 2nd AA Bn., and a Bronx, New York native. “I transport troops, I’m able to shoot, move and communicate, and I take the fight closer than what other people can.”
As a department of the Navy, the Marine Corps and its sister-service work closely together, especially when it comes to amphibious operations.
Members of 2nd AA Bn. embarked on the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), April 12, 2015. Sailors aboard the ship guided the AAV operators through the well-deck of the ship as part of a Joint Operations Access Exercise. The ship hosted the 2nd AA Bn. Marines for one night, until they transported Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment to a training area at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“We’re both helping each other out,” said De Jesus. “They need qualification for their ground guides, and we need the qualification to get on ship and know what we need to do during [Marine Expeditionary Brigade] floats and [Marine Expeditionary Units]. The relationship between the
two services is crucial.”
After securing their vehicles in the well deck of the USS Kearsarge, the Marines performed proactive maintenance on their vehicles by changing oil and fixing small problems while on ship. Operators and mechanics of AAVs know that taking care of the vehicles is a huge part of achieving mission accomplishment, especially since one hour of operating an AAV requires eight hours of maintenance.
Despite the long hours it may take to maintain an amphibious vehicle, many Marines feel a sense of pride in the important role they play for the Marine Corps.
“It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that you actually make a difference in the fight,” said De Jesus. “Sometimes [our job requires] long hours, but at the end of the day… when you plan something and it comes together, the hours don’t really matter anymore. I love what I do.”