03.28.2011 Story by Cpl. John McCall BAHRAM CHAH, Afghanistan - Adapting and overcoming obstacles is something every Marine faces at some point during his service, but the Assault Breacher Vehicle platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, does this on a regular basis.
An M88A2 Hercules lifts up an Assault Breacher Vehicle to allow Marines to conduct repairs, March 20. Marines with the ABV platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion use the Hercules as a recovery vehicle for the ABV. Photo by Cpl. John McCall
Adapting and overcoming obstacles is something every Marine faces at some point during his service, but the Assault Breacher Vehicle platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, does this on a regular basis.
“These vehicles require a lot of time and effort to keep them running,” said Sgt. Ricky Johnson, a 24-year-old ABV maintainer from Ganado, Ariz. “There has been a lot of adapting and overcoming throughout this deployment when it comes to vehicle maintenance.”
The ABV has become an extremely useful tool in the battle against improvised explosive devices. Equipped with a plow on the front end, the ABV can dig a lane for follow-on forces to proceed to their objective safely. It is also capable of firing mine-clearing line charges in areas where the threat of IEDs is high.
Marines with the Assault Breacher Vehicle platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion repair an ABV during a vehicle convoy, March 17. Marines have had to learn how to fix their vehicles on the fly in order to keep moving. Photo by Cpl. John McCall
During a past mission, there was a platoon of Marines who were unable to receive resupply convoys at their patrol base due to enemy fighters constantly emplacing IEDs. The ABV platoon rolled in to help.
“We went in, cleared a route they could use, and now they are able to get resupplied,” said Lance Cpl. Jady Hubbard, a 27-year-old ABV operator from Trussville, Ala. “Those guys thanked us from the bottom of their hearts for what we did. It felt good knowing we were able to make a difference for them.”
There are Marines specified as ABV mechanics in the platoon to make necessary repairs. However, operators have also had to learn how to repair their own vehicles due to the amount of work required to maintain the vehicles properly.
“Since there is so much work to be done you have to lend a hand, and, in doing so, you learn how to fix the vehicles yourself,” said Cpl. James Gunsolus, a 25-year-old ABV operator from Bakersfield, Calif. “We try to help the mechanics out as much as we can.”
“We’ve gotten a lot faster at doing maintenance,” Hubbard added. “Some things that used to take us a day, we can get done in a few hours, especially when we are doing a mission; it gives you a real sense of urgency.”
Marines with the Assault Breacher Vehicle platoon, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion work late into the night to repair an ABV, March 12. The ABV is equipped with a sharp plow blade on its front end for clearing routes. Photo by Cpl. John McCall
ABV operators are constantly on the move offering their valuable skills to coalition forces throughout southern Afghanistan.
“We are able to do the same things that route clearance platoons do, except we can do it safer,” said 26-year-old Cpl. Kevin Wallin, a combat engineer from Philadelphia. “We can open up routes that friendly forces haven’t been able to use.”