AGADIR, Morocco – Marines successfully transported all their personnel and equipment from Cap Draa to here April 20, 2013. However, they couldn’t have done it with out the help of some of their fellow Marines from Q Battery, 5th battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, Marine Forces Reserve.
Although most servicemembers who were a part of the convoy were not primarily motor transport operators, they all found a way to assist to accomplish the mission. Staff Sergeant Danny Ly, 32, an artillery section chief with the unit, was responsible for driving the last 7-ton truck or “bringing up the rear,” as some Marines say.
“I’d say my job is vital—helping the convoy commander maintain accountability, ‘bringing up the rear,’ watching out for any vehicles that are damaged or disabled, and any obstacles or hazards we might have,” said Ly, who is from Denver. “It’s necessary so we gotta do what we gotta do to accomplish the mission. It feels good to do my part of the mission.”
Ly, other Marines, soldiers and sailors traveled over 300 miles on narrow Moroccan highway, through city streets and mountainous trails to get to their final destination here. Lance Cpl. Tyler S. Milligan, 22, said it was everyone’s job to make sure everyone was safe and they had accountability of their vehicle —especially the assistant drivers such as himself.
“My driver can’t see everything on the road so that is why they have an a driver to assist him and to help him everywhere around the vehicle with the mirrors and the sides of the vehicles he cannot probably see,” said Milligan, an artilleryman, who is from Orange County, Calif. “So pretty much the hazard areas he cant see and help him out. Almost every time they say, ‘that we are a team’ and that ‘we always need one another.’”
Since the drive from Cap Draa to Agadir is about a nine-and-a-half hour hour drive, it is important that the drivers rest at least every two hours.
That is were the “A” drivers might change roles said, Cpl. Joaqin A. Pineda, who was also an “A”driver.
“It is a long drive,” said Pineda, 22, from Santa Ana, Calif. “We’re going to be switching out periodically because it is pretty far keeping an eye out for any threat, hostilities, calling on the radio, anything we needs to be done.”
Pineda said even though watching the road might seem like a “small thing,” it’s very important, especially in this case. The Marines drove through three different types of terrain.
“We are going to be driving through a big mountain range and if the driver falls asleep on that mountain range not only can his truck fall off, cause other damage to other people,” Pineda said. “Say if we had troops in the back, a lot of lives at stake, pretty dangerous.”
Although Pineda and other servicemembers faced tortuous terrain, they all came back safe with all gear and personnel in tact. In addition, the challenge gave them a chance to become more proficient at their jobs. Most don’t get this experience often serving in the Marine Reserve.
“Reserves is giving us a lot of opportunity out here,” Pineda said. “Hopefully have an another opportunity and be able to do it all again and make more friendships out here with the Moroccans.”
Exercise African Lion is a U.S. Africa Command-scheduled, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa- led, joint multi-lateral exercise. The joint task force consisting of U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen were able to conduct modified joint training for Exercise African Lion 13, demonstrating their ability to adapt to unpredicted circumstances, restore mission essential tasks, build interoperability and create friendships during the remaining days of the evolution.
The logistics component will continue to exercise vigilant, safe and rapid retrograde of almost 1,200 personnel and 250 short-tons of vehicles and equipment while working with Moroccan partners and contractors to sustain the force and redeploy them back to their home stations in a timely and efficient manner.
The Moroccan Government and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa, Exercise African Lion 13 conducted modified, limited bi-lateral military engagements with Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and U.S. servicemembers with an Aerial Training Exercise, consisting of low-level flight and refueling classes, and a Maritime Prepositioning of Forces and Port Operations Familiarization workshop, as the remaining events of the current iteration, due to deferment of the exercise by the Moroccan Government.