Face of Defense: Marine’s Passion Supports Operations

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — 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.

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christo­pher L. Burkhart spends his time in Camp Leath­er­neck, Afghanistan, doing a job he has always loved to do. He grew up work­ing on four-wheel­ers and trucks, now he works on every type of vehi­cle the Marine Corps has to offer.
U.S. Marine Corps pho­to by Cpl. Megan Sin­de­lar
Click to enlarge

“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.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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