MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina --
– The engines’ roar echoed through the trees of the Carolina woods. The convoy commander gave the order to halt, bringing tons of moving steel to an abrupt stop on the soggy roadway as word is passed from vehicles to vehicle: ‘How deep is it?’
Marines with Motor Transportation Services Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 25, Combat Logistics Regiment 45 practiced fording water crossings Aug. 13, 2014 during exercise Heavy Metal 14 here.
Before the Marines were allowed to cross in their vehicles, they had to navigate the muddy, treacherous course on foot. Fording a river or water crossing can be a tricky situation; the driver may not know what is under the water before he begins to cross it. This type of training is necessary since crossing a river or large body of water may be a requirement for these Marines to traverse in a combat environment should supplies, troops or equipment be needed for support.
“Before we can let vehicles pass at a fording point, we have to know what is under the water,” said Staff Sgt. Barry Gaynor, the staff non-commissioned officer for MTS Co., CLB-25. “We teach the Marines to look for drop-offs, changes in elevation from one side to the other or if the water is too deep. That way, they know what they are about to drive into.”
The Marines navigated the obstacle on foot in different ways depending on the number of people in the convoy. One strategy involved Marines forming a human chain with the lead Marine holding a stick or some sort of measuring device out front to check for any obstructions before taking a step.
For many of the Marines on the exercise, this was the first time they navigated large bodies of water in their vehicles. The Marines were previously trained on the dangers of stalling out a vehicle in water and stopping the convoy to recover.
“It was a rush, taking the Humvees through three to four feet of water, having the water come through the doors and the top of the gunners hatch,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Carpino, a motor transportation operator with MTS Co., CLB-25. “It was definitely something new and exciting.”
Several passes were made by the Marines across the fording point to give them all a chance to practice their new skills and to ensure knowledge retention.
“My first time through, I was a passenger,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Williams, a motor transportation operator with MTS Co., CLB-25. “My second time I actually got to drive. I was scared a little at first, but once I began to rev up the engine, I felt more focused than I had been all day. I knew I had a challenge to overcome and I decided nothing was going to stop me.”
At the completion of training, the convoy mounted up and rolled back to the staging area to refuel for the next event. The Marines of CLB-25 successfully navigated the course proving that they could, if necessary, perform the same techniques in a combat situation.
“They did a great job grasping the concept of fording water obstacles,” said Gaynor. “Once we let them drive through it, they definitely got down and dirty.”