Marines call Air Force base home

0
640
Marines assigned to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix, perform a dignified transfer for a fallen Marine, May 17, 2019, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. The company participates in color guard, Marine Corps funeral honors and dignified transfers. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

A tan, quiet building sits on a street near the northwestern edge of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Lost in the background of F-35s and F-16s, it can be easily overlooked, however, this particular structure houses a group with a very unique mission.

Home to the Marine Corps’ 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, headquartered in New Orleans, this unit is made up of a mix of 22 active-duty, active-reserve and Marine Corps Reserve and have operations that remain independent from the on-going Luke operations.

The facility previously resided in downtown Phoenix but relocated to Luke in January 2010 due to anti-terrorism and force protection requirements.

“We don’t have any operational or administrative commitments to Luke,” said U.S. Marines 1st Sgt. Eddie Williams, 6th Engineer Support Battalion Bulk Fuel Company Charlie Site Support Phoenix inspector instructor. “We just have a building, basically. All of our operations are conducted outside of the base.”

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Martin, 6th Engineer Support Battalion Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix maintenance chief (left), Lance Cpl. Kyle Pierce and Cpl. Tristan Garivay (right), Alpha Company administrative specialists, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East, stand ready to receive a dignified transfer May 17, 2019, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. A dignified transfer is the movement of a service member in a flag-draped transfer case from an aircraft to an awaiting transport vehicle. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

The 6th ESB’s primary responsibility is to train reservists in the bulk fuel community and provide fuel for ground transportation in the Marine forces, said Williams.  

More than 350 reservists come to Luke one weekend a month to perform annual Military Occupational Specialty training.

The reservists conduct annual rifle and pistol range qualification for three to five days in an area close to Flagstaff, Ariz. They also practice land navigation, battle skills testing and bulk fuel training to enhance the battalion’s marksmanship proficiency and meet annual training requirements.

The battalion participates in color guard, funeral honors and dignified transfers and, according to Williams, they have events throughout the year when the community asks for Marine Corps support.

Marines assigned to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix, carry a fallen Marine in a flag-draped transfer case during a dignified transfer May 17, 2019, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. Dignified transfers are when fallen service members are transported from an aircraft to an awaiting transport vehicle. The fallen Marine, Lance Cpl. Justin A. Hinds, was an Avondale, Ariz., native. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

The most recent dignified transfer performed by Marines from 6 ESB was May 17, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for an Avondale, Ariz., native, Lance Cpl. Justin A. Hinds, an administrative specialist with Alpha Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East.

With such a small number of Marines stationed at Luke, there is a bond between these military members that reflects a family.

“If one of our comrades has fallen, we do everything to make sure the family can have closure,” said Master Sgt. Ralph Wright, Site Support Phoenix operations chief. “It’s just what we do. It doesn’t matter if we knew the Marine personally. It’s a title we earn. We know what everyone went through to deserve it.”
 

Marines assigned to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix, carry a flag-draped transfer case to a hearse during a dignified transfer May 17, 2019, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. A team of three to seven Marines can perform a dignified transfer. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

 
A fallen Marine is transported into a hearse during a dignified transfer May 17, 2019, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. Lance Cpl. Justin A. Hinds, administrative specialist with Alpha Company, Headquarters and support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East, enlisted in the Army in 2011 and in the Marine Corps in 2016. The Avondale, Ariz., native passed away May 4, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

 
The father of a fallen Marine hugs Lance Cpl. Kyle Pierce, Alpha Company administrative specialist, Headquarters and support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East, during a dignified transfer at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix May 17, 2019. Pierce was the best friend of the Justin A. Hinds, an Avondale, Ariz. Native. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

 
Sgt. Levi Barela, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix administrative specialist, climbs into a John Deere TRAM 624KR tractor May 30, 2019, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The tractor is fitted with a special armor package and is designed for use in combat-support operations for the U.S. Marine Corps. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)

 
Sgt. Levi Barela, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, Site Support Phoenix administrative specialist, prepares to drive a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement May 30, 2019, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. MTVRs are used to transport troops and cargo to different locations. Barela is active-duty and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2015. (Air Force photograph by Airman Brooke Moeder)