Marines master craft, fuel attack squadron
US Marine Corps News
By Pfc. Codey Underwood, Marine Corps College of Continuing Education
IE SHIMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- As the AV-8B Harrier jets hovered over the airfield, Marines prepared to quickly and efficiently carry out the task in front of them. Pumping more than 130 gallons per minute, the Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 filled the Harrier jets with the fuel needed to complete the mission.
The squadron, part of Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted a forward arming and refueling point operation at Ie Shima Training Range Feb. 28.
The Harriers, part of Marine Attack Squadron 311, from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., are currently assigned to 1st MAW through the Marine Corps’ unit deployment program.
It takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes to fill a Harrier with fuel if it is completely empty, said Sgt. Calvin L. Norwood, the FARP line safety noncommissioned officer for MWSS-172.
“With a partial tactical airfield fuel dispenser system and two 20-thousand-gallon bags of fuel, we were able to provide support to VMA-311 by fueling two aircraft at one time,” said Norwood. “We are here to provide a service for the pilots, and we give them 100 percent every time.”
The job of quick and efficient refueling is a group effort, requiring Marines of all backgrounds to play their part.
“The squadron consists of Marines from many different areas in the Marine Corps who come together and make our team,” said Sgt. Edward S. Ramlal, the fuel team leader for MWSS-172. “We have bulk fuel specialists, motor transport operators, motor transport mechanics and field radio operators.”
Fueling is necessary to ensure pilots are able to get off the ground and move the battle downrange, according to Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Koehler, a logistics vehicle systems operator with MWSS-172.
“The fueling section of the (aircraft wing) is a very big part of making sure things run smoothly,” said Koehler.
All the Marines are necessary to ensure the forward arming and refueling point operation runs smoothly, according to Ramlal.
“Naturally, a FARP is a mobile refueling point which, when used in (combat), advances the battlefield further downrange by making the distance that the (aircraft) have to travel for fuel and armaments shorter,” said Ramlal. “Here on Ie Shima, the FARP was intended to support Marine Attack Squadron 311 with the fuel necessary to carry out their operation and to give the Marines with MWSS-172 more hands-on experience.”
VMA-311 is currently working to become certified to fly with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to Ramlal.
“The airfield here on Ie Shima simulates the landing area on a carrier,” said Ramlal. “It was selected for this operation because the pilots of the Harriers are required to obtain so many hours of training, including takeoffs and landings, before they become qualified to land on a carrier.”
Providing the logistical support required for the pilots to accomplish this training is a large responsibility but one the bulk fuel Marines take a lot of pride in, Ramlal concluded.
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