News: Air Cav. fuelers reach over 2 million gallons pumped
Story by Sgt. Alun Thomas
CAMP TAJI — The relentless nature of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade aviation mission requires aircraft to be in the air at all times.
Keeping the aircraft flying requires massive amounts of fuel and a 24-hour operation which is maintained by fuelers at a non-stop pace.
This pace by the fuelers of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division — Center, has added up to more than 2.5 million gallons of pumped fuel since the beginning of the unit's deployment more than nine months ago.
The figure is significant because of the limited resources the fuelers often work with, said Sgt. Nathaniel Washington, from Little Rock, Ark., a petroleum supply specialist for Co. E, 2-227th, 1st ACB.
"With the small amount of people and equipment we have, it's a big achievement to have pumped so much fuel," Washington said. "We work 24 hours a day with roughly 10 to 12 personnel."
Washington said his duties involve supervising the fueling of CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, both which are flown by 2-227th.
"I make sure the equipment is up and ready to go and that I have complete coordination with the motor pool and flight companies," he said. "It's important to know when they're going to need fuel and the amount of fuel necessary."
The deployment has been a busy one for the company, Washington said, with thousands of gallons being pumped every night.
"On an average night we pump 6,000 to 7,000 gallons," Washington said. "One night, we had a record amount, which was close to 12,000 gallons of cold fuel pumped."
This indicates just how much the Air Cav has flown, he said, with some aircraft requiring more effort than others.
"The demands of the Chinook, especially—they take a lot of fuel," Washington said. "It's a good thing; we're keeping them in the air and keeping people safe. The more fuel we pump, the better for the mission."
Washington said he is proud of his Soldiers, who have risen to the challenges presented to them, as reflected by their numbers.
"The guys are hard workers ... with the demand for more flight hours and fuel, they've stayed dedicated to the mission," Washington said. "They know they have to keep these birds in the air. To accomplish what we have is amazing."
Working alongside Washington is Staff Sgt. Bryan Funyak, from Pittsburgh, a truck driver for Co. E, who said the commitment shown by the fuelers makes it easy for him to supervise them.
"This is a very good operation," Funyak said. "These guys know their mission and are extremely good at it."
Funyak said he was bought in to assist with the fueling mission due to the lack of fuelers, but added that working outside his normal job of transportation has been a good experience.
"When I came up here, it was easy to step in because these guys know their role and the mission always gets done," Funyak said.
Besides the ongoing mission at Camp Taji, fuelers for the company are also based in Kalsu and Balad.
"Those missions have been going on the entire deployment and we've had to cross-train Soldiers as fuelers to replace the ones that have joined the missions there," Funyak said.
The gallons of fuel pumped in those locations are not figured into the total amount at Taji, Funyak said, which makes the scope of the 2.5 million gallons even more impressive.
"It's a pretty good number," he said. "It's one of those things where you could sit back and say, 'Yeah, we out-pumped pretty much everyone.'"