MULTI-NATIONAL BASE COMMAND TARIN KOT, Afghanistan --
Troops stationed aboard bases in Afghanistan rely on large amounts of fuel for everyday tasks and operations. Occasionally, their fuel supply runs short due to continuously running equipment and constant flights.
A Marine aircrew with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 conducted a refueling operation from Camp Bastion, Helmand province, to Multi-National Base Command Tarin Kot, Urozgan province, Afghanistan, June 8, 2014.
Multi-National Base Command Tarin Kot is located approximately 111 miles from where the Marines with VMGR-352 are stationed at Camp Bastion.
Multi-National Base Command Tarin Kot is somewhat isolated. Its only airstrip is aboard the major military base of the International Security Assistance Force reconstruction team on the outskirts of the town. The only ground access to and from base is a road to the regional center of Kandahar to the south.
An experienced flight crew and thorough preflight inspections are necessary to guarantee a successful and incident free, four-hour refueling mission.
In the early morning hours, the aircraft is thoroughly looked over by Cpl. Brendan Gagnon and Cpl. Jacob Perez, crew chiefs with VMGR-352, and verified by Sgt. Jacob Smith, a crewmaster with the unit.
The aircrew flew aboard a KC-130J Hercules, an aircraft capable of carrying 58,000 lbs. of fuel. The Hercules is a tactical tanker transport aircraft that stretches more than 90 feet in length and 130 feet from wing to wing. It can resupply in battle zones, provide a direct air support center, insert ground troops and perform medical evacuation operations if needed.
Upon arriving at MNBC Tarin Kot, Smith ensured the refueling process was quick and safe by planning, setting up, operating and breaking down the refueling panel to offload the fuel.
“We provided intermediate refueling and rearming of operations,” said Smith, a native of Moscow, Tenn. “I felt very accomplished.”
“It went very smoothly,” said Perez. “We were only there for approximately one hour.”
Crew chiefs are responsible for ensuring the aircraft is safe to fly, troubleshooting any aircraft problems, performing maintenance in the air or on the ground, and helping with aerial refueling.
“The fuel will be used for emergency generator fuel as well as for constantly coming-and-going aircraft,” said Army Pfc. Dartaniel Morgan, a soldier with 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, RC(S).
The Marines with VMGR-352 are from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. They have been operating in Helmand province and the surrounding area since arriving in Afghanistan in January and are scheduled to redeploy to the U.S. in July.
“Our basic crew chief school prepares us for any mission, anywhere,” said Perez. “I felt very pleased at how the mission went today.”