April 30, 2009
- More than 200 Soldiers laid more than six miles of a 19-mile pipeline during training operations at Fort Pickett, Va.
- The operation and maintenance of the pipeline is the 109th's primary responsibility.
- Two U.S. Army Reserve engineer units based in Pennsylvania and members of the Korean Service Corps completed 13 miles of pipe.
Fort Lee, Va. (April 30, 2009) -- April 21 was a typical spring day at the field training areas of Fort Pickett, Va. Temperatures peaked in the low 70s, the humidity was negligible and a postcard-like blue sky hovered above.
So much for the scene from "The Sound of Music."
The roar of diesel cargo trucks chugging down dirt roads carrying 128-pound aluminum pipes and the high-pitched pings of brass hammers hitting pins was definitely a counterpoint to the gentle sights and sounds of spring.
Those thuds, clacks and clangs belong to the 109th Quartermaster Company, 240th QM Battalion, which journeys out to the National Guard installation every spring to set up a petroleum distribution system. A,A
"Our mission today is to support the construction of 19.5 miles of pipeline," said Capt. William Bauserman, 109th QM Company commander, noting more than 200 Soldiers are involved in the training.A,A "My company's responsibility is to set up the first six miles of pipe."
A pipeline terminal unit, the 109th's primary responsibility, is not the construction of the pipeline, called the Inland Petroleum Distribution System, but rather the operation and maintenance of the pipeline once it's built.A,A
The unit has supported the construction the past few years to broaden Soldiers' understanding of pipeline operations thus enhancing the unit's operational readiness, said Bauserman.
"The value of the training for our Soldiers is that they not only know their missions to operate the pipeline, but they know what they have to do to set in the pipe," he said.A,A "That gives them the know-how - how the pipe fits together, how the turns work, where we need to put vent valves and where we need to put expansion chambers.A,A It just gives Soldiers a better understanding of how to execute their missions."
It gives them that and more, said Cpl. Tavarus Ferebee.A,A Ferebee and a small group of his fellow Soldiers labored since the early morning hours connecting pipes using hinged couplers.A,A He figures the group has covered two miles and connected 200-300 pipe sections.A,A
"It is work and you will feel it at the end of the day," said the North Carolina native, noting that bending and stooping is necessary to complete the work.A,A "It is also boring but we try to make it fun."
Up the road about a mile, another group of 109th Soldiers are engaged in work that defies 'boring.'A,A They manually remove the 128-pound, 19-foot pipe sections from cargo trucks on a rotating basis and lay them alongside the road where crews like Ferebee's will connect them.
"The work is hard and tiring, but as long as you keep the Soldiers' motivation up, they get the job done," said Spc. Kyle Grant, pipeline squad leader.A,A
The Soldiers do seem motivated and they need to be.A,A By the time the pipeline is completed, they will have laid down more than 1,600 sections of pipe.
"It is what it is," said Grant smiling and noting they were only about a mile away from completion. "We're just going to accomplish our mission and move on from there."
Two U.S. Army Reserve engineer units based in Pennsylvania and members of the Korean Service Corps completed the remaining 13 miles of pipeline.
Pfc. Branden Hampton, one of the Soldiers helping to unload the trucks, said the project has been valuable experience for him and his fellow Soldiers.
"It's brought us all together," said the Texas native. "It's been a bonding and learning experience all at the same time."