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Aviation support Marines fuel success in southwestern Afghanistan

US Marine Corps News

By Pfc. Sean Dennsion, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- The Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371’s fuel division are well acquainted with military aircraft.

Not only do they fuel almost every Marine Corps aircraft on Camp Bastion, a major hub for aviation combat operations in southwestern Afghanistan, they also serve a major role in allowing those aircraft to reach the far corners of the region.

The Marines refuel thousands of aircraft each month according to Staff Sgt. Tirrell Enoch, the squadron’s fuel division staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, and a native of Greensboro, N.C.

“This is one of the busiest fuel sites in Afghanistan,” said Lance Cpl. Paul Rodriguez-Sanchez, a Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 bulk fuel specialist and a native of Oceanside, N.Y.

The squadron supports 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), the aviation combat element for the southwestern regional command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

“Without fuel nothing here moves,” said Lance Cpl. Ryland Grimstead, a Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 bulk fuel specialist and Asheboro, N.C., native. “Without us, grunts and supplies can’t go out.”

The fuels Marines also support forward arming and refueling points which speckle the deserts of Afghanistan’s Nimruz and Helmand provinces.

“A FARP is an oasis for fuel,” said Sgt. Jason O’Hearn, a Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 motor transportation refueler, and a native of Merrillville, Ind.

These refueling points, created when and where they’re needed, allow aircraft to stay in the air longer, providing extended support for ground forces. With the forward arming and refueling points, pilots need not return to major bases, like Camp Bastion, when they run low on fuel or ordnance while supporting a mission.

Refueling truck operators like O’Hearn convoy to the various forward arming and refueling points to keep them fresh with fuel.

“There are aircraft constantly moving,” said O’Hearn. “With all the missions we support out there, my Marines are a big part of what drives them.”

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