War on Terrorism

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Face of Defense: Marine’s Passion Supports Operations

By Marine Corps Cpl. Megan Sindelar
Regional Command Southwest

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Jan. 6, 2011 – An energetic and upbeat Marine from the countryside of Dutton, Va., spends his time here doing a job he always has loved to do.

Lance Cpl. Christopher L. Burkhart, a diesel mechanic with Regimental Combat Team 2, grew up working on four-wheelers and trucks, and now he works on every type of vehicle the Marine Corps has to offer.

“I got my first four-wheeler when I was 5, and I have been tinkering with and fixing things ever since,” he said.

Burkhart said his grandfather, Milton, and his brother, Jeremy, were big influences in his life. Both of them loved working on vehicles, and Burkhart grew up learning and working with them.

Burkhart and his mother, Deb, worked on a 1981 Toyota pickup truck together. It was his mother’s first truck, he said, and the oldest truck he has worked on.

“My mom and I took pride in it together,” he said.

The newest civilian vehicle he’s worked on is his 2005 Dodge Ram. So far, he said, he has added an exhaust system, bigger tires, a new head unit and a stereo system.

“It’s cool to see how far we’ve come in vehicle technology,” he said.

As he nears the end of his first deployment to Afghanistan, Burkhart has worked on every type of vehicle and heavy equipment in the Marine Corps inventory. His favorite: the all-terrain version of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle.

“They are easy to work on, and it’s the newest thing to come out in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I love learning everything there is to know about the new vehicles.”

The job provides plenty of satisfaction. “There is nothing better than getting a truck that doesn’t run, then being able to take it out for a road test because I fixed it,” Burkhart said.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Edward V. Miuccio, who has known Burkhart since he settled in at Camp Lejeune, N.C., about a year and a half ago, said that he can tell Burkhart is motivated just by his attitude and confidence while at work.

“He is energetic and enjoys his job,” Miuccio, a line noncommissioned officer. “We work together to fix the trucks on the lot.”

Burkhart, who plans on separating when his active-duty commitment ends, said he wants to work on the sustainment team for the company that supplies the M-ATVs to the Marine Corps and sends technicians to work with Marines to resolve any issues with the vehicles in the deployed environment.

“[They] are very helpful, friendly people,” said Burkhart. “I’d be able to concentrate on just the M-ATV instead of the other vehicles here.”

On his off hours, Burkhart is easy-going and hangs out with his co-workers. Miuccio said one of his favorite memories of him and Burkhart is staying up on Christmas playing video games until 2 in the morning, just laughing and relaxing.

“He is a good guy and would give the shirt off his back for any of his friends,” Miuccio said. “I’d trust him with my life.”

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