Gearing up on the Railways

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marines rush over top, around and beside a mammoth-looking line of railcars, as Lance Cpl. Brent G. Vines and his fellow Marines finish preparing and loading various combat gear to be sent to Fort Polk, La. for Cajun Viper.

The railway is both efficient and good training for the Marines of 10th Marine Regiment. This is the first serious railway operation they have conducted in support of infantry training since 2002.

The units participating in operation Cajun Viper, including 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 10th Marine Regiment, will train in Louisiana for approximately a month in preparation for Iraq.

“The Marines will be in Fort Polk and ready to train, so it is important that we get this gear and equipment to them in a very quick and organized fashion,” said Vines, a landing support specialist. “For this operation we are transporting the gear by railway instead, which is fun.”

This is Vines first time working with a railway system, and he is glad for the chance to perfect another aspect of his job.

“This (railway transportation) is somewhat new for most of the Marines working here today,” said Chief Warrant Officer-4 Daniel R. Young, the 10th Marine Regiment embark officer. “It is a good learning experience for the Marines and is also getting the job done efficiently.”

Embark Marines organize, load and transport gear, ranging from the smallest of items to a Logistics Vehicle System (LVS), which can weigh more than 24,000 pounds. They get the job done using various modes of transportation.

“We use anything that flies, drives or floats,” Vines said. “It all depends on what needs to go, where it needs to go and when it needs to get there.”

Large amounts of gear were sent in 47 cars over the rails from Camp Lejeune to Fort Polk. The operation also called for 197 pieces of rolling stock, to include 20 humvees, 47 seven-ton trucks, two LVSs and many other pieces of gear.

Vines said, although it is common to have gear transported across country in commercial 18-wheeler trucks, the equipment was sent by rail for good reason aside from the training aspect.

Young explained it takes around 120 commercial trucks to transport what the Marines fit on 47 rail cars. In addition to the carrying capacity and easy loading, railcars also allow for a more organized and consolidated shipment due to the sheer size of each car.

The Marines worked hard to complete the successful loading and transportation of the gear, and they learned a lot much from the whole experience.

“We are in charge of making sure the Marine Corps, and right now the infantry units at Fort Polk, have their beans, bullets and band-aids,” said Vines, referring to the supplies needed to complete any mission. “It is rewarding to know that you are making sure your fellow Marines have what they need to be prepared and trained.”