CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- -- Cpl. Dennis M. Eames strides through the motor pool with his chin up and a determined gaze.
“Good morning, corporal,” says a lance corporal, elbows-deep in the hood of a truck.
Eames returns the greeting, eyeing the lance corporal’s work.
Eames said his drive toward perfection has only increased since learning he won the Marine Corps Motor Transportation Operator of the Year award for 2016. He described it is an added weight of responsibility – a need to perform flawlessly – with junior Marines now looking to him even more to set the example.
Eames, a motor-t operator with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, was nominated for his initiative and outstanding commitment to duty, said Gunnery Sgt. Garcia Gonzalez, the motor transportation operations chief with MWSS-172.
“He’s one to always go above and beyond,” said Gonzalez, an Oak Lawn, Illinois, native. “He’s always looking to gain more responsibility. Even the movements that are high-risk — he’s always willing to take those on.”
Eames said that although he’s humbled by the experience, he's also proud. Receiving the award also means earning "bragging rights" for beating out all the motor-t operators throughout the Marine Corps. Eames said he’s especially proud of beating the stateside operators.
“I want to see this unit be better than the big [Combat Logistics Battalions], where they have 400 operators, and here we only have about 34,” said Eames.
Located on Camp Foster, Okinawa, MWSS-172 is one of the smallest units on the island, said Eames. The proud motor-t operator, who describes his unit as “underdogs,” said he thinks that being a part of motor-t, especially in the wing, means his unit is less likely to receive recognition than other units.
However, Eames said MWSS-172, as the only MWSS on the island, has a very high operational tempo.
The MWSS supports two vital Osprey squadrons, which fall under Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The Ospreys are valued for their combination of range, vertical take of and landing capability, and cargo capacity -- a combination well-suited to the amphibious, expeditionary operations that III MEF conducts in the Indo-Asia-Pacific reason. Thus, Ospreys are perpetually in demand, and Marines of MWSS-172 are perpetually busy on the ground, transporting personnel and supplies needed to facilitate flight operations.
Eames said that although motor-t operators are often overlooked, winning this award has given him new perspective on how his job fits into the bigger picture.
“It matters, especially in a small wing unit like we are,” said Eames. “One person can change a whole lot.”