Fuelers provide petroleum with a purpose
PV2 Nicholas Grahamn, 401st Transportation Company, fuels up a truck during Operation Golden Cargo at Crane Army Ammunition Activity.

CRANE ARMY AMMUNITION ACTIVITY, Ind. - Just as the drivers of Operation Golden Cargo deliver nutrition to themselves in the form of food, the rigs they drive also need precious protein, only in the form of petroleum. Thousands of gallons of gasoline are devoured daily by the diesel engines of the trucks, as both driver and vehicle complete their crucial mission of transporting ammunition.

PV2 Nicholas Graham is the Army's equivalent of a service station attendant - but make no mistake - he and his fellow fuelers provide far more than just pumping gas. They provide a critical lifeline through their pipeline at the OGC fuel point by giving the cylinders, pistons and grinding gears of these green gargantuans the liquid refreshment they need for peak performance.

"We're here to help carry out the mission," said Graham, of the 401st Transportation Company, based in Battle Creek, Mich. "Not only do we fuel the vehicles, we provide fuel for all the generators running the lights and air conditioning in the living areas."

In other words, they're a full-service station, he said.

"We have a great team out here," said Graham, who is fresh out of Initial Entry Training. "It feels good to get our hands dirty."

Due to the dangerous nature of their jobs, safety must always be at the top of the priority list, said Graham.

"Safety is of the utmost importance because of the extremely flammable equipment and liquids we're dealing with on a daily basis," he said. "Our vehicles are grounded to avoid static electricity and we always wear the proper gear including eye protection."

According to Graham, collaborating with unfamiliar comrades - including civilians -- is critical to quickly developing the kind of chemistry needed to make a fuel point run smoothly.

"It's nice to interact with units from other states," he said. "Also, the civilians are great to work with - they talk to us with respect, give us pointers and tell us when we're doing a good job."

There is down time in between convoys, but the Soldiers of the 401st find plenty to occupy their time until the next group of trucks rumbles down the gravel road leading to this oasis in the woods.

Sgt. Jarrett Richardson, 401st Trans. Co., took advantage of a break in the action on a muggy Midwest afternoon to provide his Soldiers with some impromptu instruction in the changing of 500-pound tires. "It's better to learn these types of things now, rather than in a combat environment," said Richardson. "This is nothing like just changing a car tire."

The ability for troops to have the time to perfect their craft is critical to mission success, he said.

"These Soldiers rely on (annual training) to hone their skills to the point where whenever the situation changes and a different scenario presents itself, they can handle it."

Graham said he appreciates this chance to gain valuable hands-on experience fueling vehicles, which doesn't happen much at their home station during monthly battle assemblies.

"I feel after two weeks of this, I'll be ready to deploy," he said. "It's a great training experience."

Page last updated Tue June 22nd, 2010 at 13:00