TUCSON, Ariz. — The 162nd Wing’s F-16 schoolhouse at the Tucson International Airport often serves as a model for security cooperation with America’s global allies. It’s not common, however, that the international training center hosts Marine Corps reservists to augment Guard Airmen here.
Beginning in late March and ending in early June, bulk fuel specialists from Bulk Fuel Company Alpha, 6th Engineer Support Battalion will be working side by side with the wing’s Fuels Management Flight while its own personnel fulfill various mission requirements overseas.
“The Marine Corps Reserve had been affiliated with the wing in the past – getting vital training through us by performing their unit training assemblies here,” said Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Torres, interim Fuels Superintendent.
“We’re looking to rekindle that one fight, one team spirit.”
While they call Davis-Monthan Air Force Base their home for a typical weekend duty, the Marines ordinarily venture out to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, for their annual training sessions. But with the logistical task of administering the precious resource of fuel and with limited personnel, the 162nd Wing turned to a corps of fuel specialist Marines, sealing a mutually beneficial relationship.
“Their contributions help sustain our mission here and overseas, and the Marine Corps echelon finds their time here to be beneficial and lucrative,” Torres added.
With a fuel distribution process that pumps roughly 13.5 million gallons annually to a sizeable inventory of F-16 Fighting Falcons, the augmenting Marines help ensure that safety procedures are followed while adhering to environmental policies.
“We put together a training plan that gets them operational within 48 hours,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Jacob Knutson.According to the officer in charge of the fuels management flight, getting up to speed with petroleum, oils and lubricant shop involves receiving tankers from Davis-Monthan, conducting lab work, running a checkpoint on an R-11 Refueling Tank, and ultimately qualifying the Marines to participate in fuel transactions on the flight line.
“They’re very professional and eager to learn and help us out in our mission, and we really appreciate the support they have given us so far,” Knutson said.
Because they incorporate their military occupational specialty (MOS) instruction into a remote-training model at Twentynine Palms, the Marines are not often exposed to the actual fuels distribution process.
“These are new systems for us, especially with the refueling trucks because we use pumps by themselves,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Paul Robledogarcia. “It’s nice learning new systems and seeing the different aspects of bulk fuel distribution.”
In the spirit of the famous Marine Corps saying that “Every Marine is a Rifleman,” Robledogarcia and his fellow Marines will also be working with the Security Forces Squadron whenever the wing stands down on training sorties.
“Working as an MP (Military Police) – while doing our MOS of refueling planes wherever they may be – makes us all well-rounded Marines,” said Robledogarcia.
Their presence at the 162nd Wing precedes an inter-service training event called Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercises (QLLEX) – scheduled to begin in June – showcasing resupply capabilities provided by Citizen-Soldiers, and involving the Air National Guard, the active duty Air Force, and the Marine battalion.