Marines train for the long haul Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 April 2007
Marine Pvt. Mark Ladele, Marine Corps Detachment, student, prepares to drive an MK23 on one of the many designated routes through post, Monday.
The Military Occupational Specialty 3531 is full of some bad mother truckers. (Shut your mouth)

I'm just talking about the basic motor transport Marines, and the training they receive on post.

Fort Leonard Wood's Marine Corps Motor Transport Instruction Company provides about 2,800 Marines a year with the basic knowledge and skills to operate and handle the MK23 7-ton truck, as well as the M1113 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle.

"We want to make sure they leave with a basic knowledge of the humvee and the 7-ton, and enough road miles to be comfortable," said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Lane, Motor Vehicle Operator's Course noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "So they can be productive when they get to their unit. We want to send out productive Marines to the fleet."

The intensive 27-day course is split up into five different sections, culminating in a convoy to Lebanon through the back roads of south central Missouri. By the time its over, each student will have more than 250 miles under their belt.

But they all start at the beginning.

"First we take them to the post's driver safety class," Lane said. "Once in a while, we'll get some 18-19-year-old Marines who have never driven before. The class is good for them and a good refresher for everyone else."

Lane said many times, the non-driving Marines perform better than their counterparts because they don't have any bad driving habits to break.

Sgt. Shawn Behlk, MVOC, instructor, agreed, saying the bad habits are usually the hardest thing for a Marine to get over.

"They'll jump into the vehicle, stick one hand on top of the steering wheel and start looking for the stereo," Behlk said. "I have to let them know, this is not their P.O.V."

After the safety class, students train to get their HMMWV license. They drive a total of 55 instructed miles before taking a written and driving test.

Then it's on to the heavy equipment.

The MK23 7-ton truck uses its 425 horsepower, 4 stroke, 6 cylinder engine to haul a payload of up to 15 tons on well paved roads and 7 tons pretty much anywhere else. The 14 foot tall body towers over most other vehicles and can maneuver through some of the toughest terrain to get its cargo where it needs to be.

After three days of computer based classroom instruction where the students learn all the capabilities and limitations of the trucks, they hop into the cab, of one of the 24 7-ton truck simulators at the course.

"They drive 79 to 80 miles on the simulator to get them used to controlling such a big vehicle," Lane said. "They can go through many different courses in all kinds of weather conditions. They are a good way to get them comfortable with the idea of driving a 7-ton."

Then they hop into the cab of a 7-ton, where they first master unpaved courses at Training Area 236 before driving designated routes through the post.

After their final convoy to Lebanon, students graduate with their 7-ton license and head to their permanent duty stations. There, they will use their newly honed skills to haul troops, cargo, trailers or as Lane said. "Band aids, beans an bullets."

Or if they are in the reserves, like Pvt. Mark Ladele, student, they may also use the skills they learned, in the civilian world.

"I thank God to have this experience," he said. "Everything in life happens for a reason. I work in construction back home. This training will help me get a promotion when I return."

Staff Sgt. Peter Haviland, MVOC instructor, said he hopes the in depth training instills a sense of ownership into the Marines.

"They should be the expert and apply what they've learned to their job," he said. "I tell them, 'It's your job, nobody elses. When the (stuff) hits the fan, you're in charge. It's your (stuff), so you have to know what you're doing."

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 April 2007 )