MARINE BARRACKS, Washington, D.C. -- To say times have changed in the Corps 228 years is an understatement. From musket and cannons to M16 and Howitzers, the Marines' technology has advanced, however, the weapon is not the only change.
When the barracks was founded some 200 years ago, horses and wagons were a common sight. Horses still are but are usually under the hood in the form of a HMMWV (Hummer) and the Corps newest "beast of burden," the 7-ton truck.
Keeping Marines moving and supplied is one aspect of what won the war in Iraq and most every war Marines have fought it leading up to it.
"The Marines at Motor T are always on the road," said Staff Sgt. Miguel Contreras, motor chief, Motor Transport. "Sometimes they drive all night just to turn around and drive right back."
Motor T currently has 35 Marines to handle the constant workload. But when the unpredictable nature of Marine Barracks starts churning, things can get stirred up and tossed about, leaving the Marines of Motor T to push through the storm.
"It's hard to get used to keeping these long hours at first," said Lance Cpl. Charles H. Moricle, motor vehicle operator, Motor Transport. "But like with any other situation in the Marine Corps, you learn to adapt to the changes."
Unlike the other offices within Headquarters and Service Company, there is no set time that the motor pool starts the day because the shop is operational 24 hours a day. Between over night trips out of town, the duty driver making various trips throughout the night, and the Marines who standby on dispatch, the motor pool is a perpetual machine that never stops.
"There is no such thing as a typical day around here," said Contreras. "The motor pool is always active, when the Marines aren't driving they are getting MOS trained and of course we have physical training every Monday morning for the Marines that are not on the road."
The over flowing list of requests that are taken in by Motor T are filtered down and reviewed by the Operations Chief.
Another factor of assigning jobs is what license is required for the job.
"When new Marines get here they only have a 7 ton license, after checking in they are put through a rigorous training program where they train on every vehicle, starting with a van and a sedan," said Sgt. Jorge Careaga, license NCO, Motor T. "After getting a learners permit they graduate to the 7 ton commercial cargo truck and so on all the way up to the new coach buses."
Aside from their no stop schedules and endless training regime, ten Marines from the motor pool were temporarily attached to B Company and placed on stand by for possible riot control in the capital area during the State Of The Union Address on Jan 24. Showing once again, every Marine is a rifleman.
Recently, the on-going efforts of Barracks Motor Transport Marines were spotlighted by Brig. Gen. Michael E. Ennis in a letter he wrote to Col. Daniel P O'Brien, commanding officer, praising the outstanding logistical support from the Barracks while transporting a foreign attaché last fall.
Ennis singled out Cpl. Mark T. Woissol for his exceptional attention to detail and professional driving skills. "He was on time, knew the route," commented Ennis. "And somehow maneuvered that huge bus through the narrow New Jersey barriers on I-295 twice! His deft capability to handle a bus of that size is truly remarkable."
This is the second time Barracks Motor Transport Marines have been requested by the foreign liaison office to transport diplomats, and has once again flawlessly supported the request.
The Motor Transport Marines of today benefit from technology to help make their job easier. There are now cameras on the outside of the new buses allowing the driver to see any pedestrians approaching and helps with blind spots that would normally be a safety hazard. A driving course at the motor pool also allows for training opportunities on the over sized buses that require a special permit to drive on the open road. Perhaps in the future, further advancements will allow these hard chargers some much deserved down time.