News: Marines contribute to Operation Damayan with expeditionary refueling point
Story by Lance Cpl. Anne Henry
GUIUAN, Philippines - Marines established a forward arming and refueling point in Guiuan, Republic of the Philippines, Nov. 16 to support ongoing relief efforts taking place during Operation Damayan.
Guiuan was heavily impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Due to the city’s remote location, aircraft refuel there to facilitate the quick delivery of relief supplies and workers to Guiuan and other rural locations.
The U.S. and Armed Forces of the Philippines have delivered more than 1,200 tons of relief supplies and evacuated more than 10,000 people throughout the affected area. With the FARP in place, the process will be more efficient.
The expeditionary refueling station provides a location for aircraft to refuel, allowing for the transportation of more supplies and evacuation of more people affected by Typhoon Haiyan, according to U.S. Marine Warrant Officer Daniel Gilyard, the expeditionary airfield emergency services officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, currently assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Brigade in support of Joint Task Force 505. Because of the forward location, the aircraft can be refueled closer to where they are needed most.
“It is important to have this system set up in order for the rotor aircraft to fly a full payload from here to the affected areas. It gives them more time here where they are needed instead of flying back and forth between their home station to refuel and the affected area,” said Gilyard.
With large portions of the affected area unreachable by land or sea, the FARP is a critical and unique asset to the relief effort, allowing aircraft to shuttle supplies around the clock, according to U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Colby Heabner, a bulk fuel specialist with MWSS-172.
“Our mission here at the FARP is to keep the aircraft coming in,” said Heabner. “Today we had about 13,000 gallons of fuel and refueled about 15 to 20 aircraft. The FARP itself only took us about six hours to set up.”
Haiyan impacted more than 4.2 million people from across 36 provinces in the Philippines, according to the Philippine government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The role of the U.S. military forces during any foreign humanitarian assistance event is to rapidly respond with support to help mitigate human suffering, prevent further loss of life, and mitigate great property damage.
“The key to this situation is teamwork,” said Gilyard. “It is impossible to describe the kind of damage and devastation that has occurred in this country. It takes your breath away and makes you step back and think. It makes you want to be right beside those people who are pushing out there to help.”