Petroleum vehicle operator's course graduates final class

By Emily Athens

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - (Sept. 30, 2010) -- Fort Leonard Wood will bid farewell to the petroleum vehicle operator's course for Soldiers of the 92F military occupational specialty, otherwise known as petroleum supply specialists. The course, which spans across several training areas on the installation, has been in operation since 1982 and will permanently shut down Friday as the final class graduates from the five-week course.

"The course teaches them basic control. They come here after going to (advanced individual training) and graduating as fuel handlers at Fort Lee. They have to learn to operate 5-ton tractors loaded with liquids and a (heavy expanded mobility tactical truck) ... by doing convoys and numerous performance tests where they get scored on preventative maintenance checks and navigation," said Sgt. 1st Class Darron Wilson, first sergeant for Company D, 58th Transportation Battalion, highlighting a few of the many critical tasks they must successfully execute during the training that will potentially qualify them as a petroleum vehicle operator.

Despite the course's esteemed reputation, it is seemingly not feasible to maintain the financial burdens that come with operating it.

"All the surveys we've gotten back have shown that the students that come out of this course and go to their units are better drivers," said Bill Hurst, training specialist. "But money needs to be saved. We believe they plan on standing up a course like this in the near future somewhere in Virginia."

Having the course in Virginia will prevent Soldiers from making the extra effort and the Army from undergoing extra costs to get them to Fort Leonard Wood to finish their training after AIT as a 92F, according to Sgt. Maj. John Green, noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

"It's great training here and is really good for students. They love it and get a lot out of it. But we're only graduating 20 a week; there's a whole bunch of fuel guys out there being trained at the unit instead," he said.

As the last class shuffles through, Soldiers appear pleased with what the course had to offer.

"The training has been informative and will be invaluable to me in the field. It's unfortunate the course is going away for now, but I know they're going to put it at a better place. Training will then be the same or even better, so it's not a big deal how they do it, as long as we Soldiers get the training we need," said Spc. Sean McHugh, student. "From the cadre to the civilian contractors, it's been fantastic and they've been very professional and courteous teaching us the skills we need."

(Editor's note: Emily Athens is a photojournalist assigned to the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16