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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
MRAP civilian-Marines make an impact on families

By 2nd Lt. Kyle Thomas | | June 3, 2010

Ann Jowers, configuration manager, Joint Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected Vehicle Program, helped save her son’s life.

After an explosion rocked Sgt. Michael Jowers’ MRAP he called home to give her a message.

“Mom, I just wanted to let you know that I’m okay,” he said.

Jowers, as with others who work with the MRAP program, played a crucial role in her son’s survival by helping create the very vehicle that saved his life.

“My son had been in the gunner stand and all of his buddies, including himself, thought that they were dead. It turns out that they all made it,” Jowers said. “It blew the tires and the engine off. I don’t know how he survived it, but he did.”

Her son is not the only individual that she has had a hand in helping.

“I tell my co-workers that their children are my children too. I’ll tell anyone who has children serving in uniform that they’re my kids.”

Despite understanding the armored capabilities of the vehicle, it was still hard having a son serving in a dangerous environment overseas.

“I still cry. You don’t understand how it is if you know that your child is over there, but when you know how close your kid comes to losing his life, I don’t have the words,” Jowers said.

Her son has since been medically discharged from service in the Army.

Jowers is not the only LOGCOM employee that has a personal stake in those serving overseas.

“My son is a jumper,” said Vikki Gavre, data technician, Joint MRAP program. “He is with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq right now. He called and told me that his vehicle had hit multiple improvised explosive devices. He said he had never been so scared in his life. I just couldn’t imagine getting that phone call that something had happened to him, so I look at it as an honor and a privilege to work on this program.”

Gavre has been working with the Joint MRAP Program for the past two and a half months and plays a role in the configuration management of the MRAP.

Desmond Graham, configuration management analyst, Joint MRAP program, also has a son serving overseas.

“I currently have a son, Cpl. Desmond Graham III, who is stationed at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. He is a supply clerk,” Graham said. “It is self-gratifying knowing that we are providing the troops with a protective vehicle and that we are playing an important part in as it relates to its configuration.”

“It’s gratifying knowing that he can get hit with daisy chained improvised explosive devices and still survive. Just knowing that nothing has happened to him based on the vehicle is reassuring,” Graham added.

Graham served as a Marine before becoming a civil servant and has a daughter, Sgt. Shayla Robinson, who is also a Marine.

The MRAP first saw service in Iraq in 2007. Until that point, ground troops had to attach makeshift armored plating to Humvees for additional protection, according to Jowers.

Unlike the up-armored Humvees, the MRAP is specifically designed to be an armored vehicle.

“The MRAP is not a weapon like the Light Armored Vehicle,” Jowers said. “The MRAP had originally been intended to serve in conjunction with the LAV, but today we use it for transport.”

The armored capability of the vehicle has not gone unnoticed to the public.

Strangers have approached Jowers in the past to thank her for the work that has been done on the MRAP program.

“The public knows the difference between an up-armored Humvee and an MRAP,” Jowers said. “I had a woman approach me at a hotel who knew about the work that our group was doing with a new armored vehicle.

“She asked ‘will my son be in one of those vehicles?’ I didn’t know what to say. I just thought to myself that I sure hoped so. We also have an employee here that as been approached by soldiers from Columbus, Ga. They told her that they were back home because of the vehicle,” Jowers said.

Other branches of service are currently making the transition to the new Military All-Terrain Vehicle, the eventual replacement for the Humvee; however, the Marine Corps will continue to use the MRAP in Afghanistan as a transport vehicle.

“The lifecycle for the MRAP is about 15 years. In reality it is more likely that it will be in service for 30,” Jowers said.

Those who work on the Joint MRAP Program say that they are still thanked on a regular basis by those the vehicle has positively impacted, whether its been a service member or grateful family member.