Faces of War: The Mechanic

Even the toughest military vehicles break down in the harsh conditions of Southern Afghanistan.

Temperatures are topping 110 degrees daily. There are almost no paved roads in Helmand Province and none in the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s area of operation, plus the sand and grit wreaks havoc with many of the moving parts on the LAV’s (light armored vehicles) and the bigger trucks and personnel carriers the Marines use.

That’s why Corporal Rhett Buford and his team are so busy.

The 21 year old from Charleston, South Carolina is known as a “maintainer”, which is Marine-speak for mechanic.

In 14 days at Forward Operating Base Payne, he’d already fixed 12 engines.

“That’s all I’ve ever done my whole life…” he says during a short break on another blistering hot day.

“It’s what my dad and stepdad do, what my granddad did…

“It’s hard sometimes… it’ll test you, it’s a little stressful, but it’s what I signed up for.”

Buford, who enlisted when he was 18, also did a tour in Iraq, repairing the LAV’s Detroit Diesel 6-cylinder Turbos in Anbar Province.

He says he hasn’t decided if he’ll re-enlist next year.

When asked if his family is nervous about him being in a war zone, he says he tells them not to worry.

“I’m a mechanic!” he says, with a big grin.

A very busy mechanic for sure.

Click here to read more of Rick's dispatches from Afghanistan