News: Hard work is the price for gas in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Richard Wrigley
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHINDAND, Afghanistan -- Just as blood is the liquid that keeps your body up and moving, so is fuel the liquid that keeps an aviation task force in the air and completing the mission.
You would think that this means that those who are in charge of dispensing the fuel would be hot-shots, always in the lime-light and loved by all for performing their indispensable job.
The reality though is quite different.
“We’re in an aviation unit and the majority of the soldiers are therefore aviation personnel. We’re support guys and they appreciate us, but we can sometimes get lost in the mix,” said 1st Sgt. Eteru Ane, a native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, senior enlisted adviser for Company E, Task Force Spearhead, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
These soldiers though are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.
The soldiers of E Company’s distribution platoon have pumped more than three million gallons of fuel during their deployment to western Afghanistan. The important role they play in the task force’s day to day operations simply cannot be overstated.
No generator, Humvee, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, or CH-47 Chinook helicopter would work without the platoon’s soldiers who provide the fuel that keep these machines operational, said Sgt. Rodney Frazier, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., section chief for the Distribution Platoon.
The soldiers have provided constant support to both the ground and air fleet by taking initiative and displaying a hunger to excel, Frazier continued.
There are many challenges that the soldiers have had to overcome this deployment. One such challenge was that there were four different locations throughout western Afghanistan that the Distribution Platoon had to keep up and running, said Staff Sgt. Carl Johnson, a native of St. Louis, senior section sergeant for the Distribution Platoon.
“Pumping that much and being split up with only 40 personnel, it was difficult. We were stretched pretty thin,” said Johnson.
Finishing up his sixth deployment, Johnson described this deployment as being very different than anything he ever experienced before.
“Conducting operations at the small, outlying FOBs … it was surreal … it makes me feel like I’ve done my job in an actual combat zone,” Johnson added.
Regardless of the challenges that the soldiers were able to overcome, the sheer amount of fuel pumped is amazing in and of itself.
Pumping more than three million gallons of fuel is unheard of, said Frazier, who is on his third deployment with the 1st ACB.
“Previous deployments combined, I don’t think we pumped three million gallons total. So to have already surpassed that mark, that is a lot of grinding hard work … a lot of people don’t really know what that means,” Frazier added.
Ane echoed Frazier’s sentiment. “The amount of work per soldier that that platoon has done … it would drive a sane man crazy,” said Ane.
Johnson summed up his thoughts about the Distribution Platoon’s accomplishments this past year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“They have gotten a solid grasp of what full-spectrum aviation operations are,” said Johnson. “They pulled 24 hour operations non-stop and pumped three million gallons of fuel safely. I couldn’t really ask for much more out of them. Their performance out here has been outstanding.”