View Full Version : ‘Untouchables’ fuel, arm ‘Gunrunners’ at TLZ Bluebird

01-24-06, 10:57 AM
‘Untouchables’ fuel, arm ‘Gunrunners’ at TLZ Bluebird
MCAS New River
Story by Lance Cpl. Samuel D. White

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. (Jan. 24, 2006) -- The distinct heartbeat of rotors echo in the distant sky, catching the attention of waiting Marines. Tall brush surrounds them for half a mile in every direction and seems the only friend to the “Untouchables” who keep their eyes trained on the horizon – frozen in anticipation for their “birds” to break the unbroken tree line of evergreens.

Suddenly, an AH-1W Super Cobra bursts into view, causing the Marines to grab their headgear and spring into action; with every Marine knowing what must be done to get the bird on the ground, reloaded, refueled and back in the air as fast as possible. The slower these Marines move, the slower the Cobra is to provide support to those who need it. Every second counts - it’s go time.

This scenario was practiced by 38 Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron-272, along with several other Marine Corps Air Station New River and Cherry Point squadrons, who participated in a forward arming and refueling point exercise on Jan. 11 at Landing Zone Bluebird, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune.

According to 1st Lt. Robert F. White, MWSS-272 operations officer, the exercise was arranged to give the Marines real-life, hands-on experience while awaiting deployment.

“Anytime Marines can get out in the field and participate in a two-point hot (FARP) is going to be good training,” said White. “Marines need this experience because it’s basically the same as we do in Iraq.”

The FARP training exercise has undergone several changes to make the process more realistic for the Marines, White explained.

“To do a hot (FARP) in the past, you would have needed a waiver, which is hard to get,” White added. “So instead of keeping the helicopters running, they would shut them down, refuel and rearm them and then start them up again.”

The old process typically took an hour to complete, but now that the helicopters stay running throughout the entire procedure, that time has been cut to 15 minutes.

“The training has been constantly improving to better (educate) the Marines,” said White. “The opportunities have only been getting better and better.”

Participating alongside the “Untouchables” were Marines from MWSS-271 aircraft rescue and firefighting, MWSS-271 augments, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-29 ordnance and Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron-269.

“I love being in the field doing what I was trained to do,” said Lance Cpl. Corey W. Smith, MWSS-272 bulk fuel specialist. “It’s nice to get away from the shop and get away from cleaning gear all day.”

Some of the Marines compare this exercise to the operations they performed while in Iraq.

“Minus the fueling truck, everything else is the same,” said Cpl. Tyler A. Love, MWSS-272 bulk fuel specialist. “The exercise, the way we perform, it’s all a lot like being in Iraq - just less sand.”

With the training constantly improving, MWSS-272 Marines are receiving more hands-on experiences and are better prepared to meet the goals while deployed, said White.

“It’s important for us to do these training exercises so the real thing isn’t such a big surprise when we get over there,” said Sgt. Glen R. Schoot, HML/A-269 ordnance technician. “Grunts are counting on us; lives are counting on us, to get these birds back up in the air as fast as possible and this prepares us to accomplish those goals.”