News: 512th Soldiers prep to take over FARP mission
Story by Spc. Gaelen Lowers
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers with the 512th Quartermaster Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), are training here and at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in preparation for taking over the forward arming and refueling point, July 1, at Forward Operating Base Cobra, Iraq.
A group of about 10 Soldiers is being trained by E Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is responsible for refueling operations at JBB.
“We went through a lot of good training here,” said Spc. Bobby McKisset, a fuel specialist with the 512th Quartermaster Company and a Washington, D.C., native. “They were very knowledgeable and taught us everything we need to know to keep the [helicopters] up.”
Sgt. John Brown, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the refueling operation with the 512th Quartermaster Company and Mobile, Ala., native., said the unit refuels all kinds of Army helicopters.
“They are teaching us a lot of good stuff that we need to accomplish our mission,” he said. “We’re having a lot of fun out there.”
Although the mission is fun, it is not to be taken lightly. The lives of personnel using the FARP depend on the 512th Quartermaster Company Soldiers’ safe and proper performance of their jobs, Brown said.
“It’s very important,” he said. “We have to refuel the medevac [aircraft] … and all other birds that fly. Without us, they cannot do their missions.”
McKisset said he agreed with his NCOIC.
“You have to test the fuel and make sure it’s clean for the birds,” he said. “We test it to make sure there is no water in the fuel and that it is clean. The birds need the best quality fuel that we can give them. We make sure everyone gets to where they need to go safely.”
Given the importance of their jobs and the frequency of incoming aircraft, his Soldiers must always be ready, Brown said.
“It takes about 10 minutes or so to refuel an aircraft, but it’s a 24-hour operation,” he said. “You are always on call. You always have to be ready and prepared to go and refuel the aircraft at any moment.”
Pfc. Harith Walli, a fuel specialist with E Company, 3rd Bn., 158th Aviation. Regt. and St. Paul, Minn., native, said the FARP at FOB Cobra will be in good hands. He believes his company has given them all the skills needed to perform all necessary operations at the facility.
“My Soldiers are good Soldiers,” Brown said. “They are motivated and always happy to be here. We are ready for this mission.”