FORT STEWART, Ga. — Soldiers of the 135th Quartermaster Company gathered around Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick Robinson as he demanded a show of hands. Like a Super Bowl winning quarterback, Robinson commanded the eyes and ears of his teammates as he divided up roles of the play they were expected to run. He spouted assignments, timelines, and safety standards. Their huddle broke with a clap of chemical resistant rubber gloves as Soldiers assumed their positions.
Soldiers of the 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted a ten week training build up where they honed their skills on setting up and manning a forward arming and refueling point for 2nd Battalion, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion “Knighthawks,” 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, on Fort Stewart, Georgia, that culminated during a training event August 26, 2021.
Soldiers of the 3rd DSB’s only rarely get the chance to establish a FARP site for an aviation battalion. While not related directly to their mission essential tasks, most petroleum supply specialists inevitably provide fuel for aviation units at some point in their career.
“This is a unique capability that took a lot of coordination and help from our sister companies,” said Capt. Abraham Escobar, commander of 135th Quartermaster Company. “We’re excited for the opportunity to be able to do this.”
Training to achieve aviation fuel standards includes passing a series of checks and fuel quality standards that do not usually apply to ground fuel. This proves that if necessary, 135th Quartermaster Company can support aviation assets with the proper equipment and training to keep them in the fight.
“I want our Soldiers to be proud,” said Escobar. “Because this isn’t something we get to do everyday, I want our Soldiers to get the experience and familiarity of a FARP operation and take it with them moving forward.”
The FARP system is specifically designed for refueling helicopters in remote areas at a designated fuel system supply point. The system is lightweight and can be flown to the refueling point by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. The bulk fuel for the system is usually flown to the site in 500-gallon collapsible drums by utility or cargo helicopters. For this training exercise, Soldiers simulated pumping fuel directly from a 2,500 gallon heavy expanded mobility tactical truck.
“FARP is important because it extends a range of our aviation assets in any operation and along the battlefield,” said Warrant Officer Omar Stoddard, a petroleum systems technician.
Much like a racecar pit crew, a team of petroleum fuel supply specialists at the FARP can refuel and reload an aircraft within minutes.
Employing a FARP increases Soldiers’ abilities to efficiently complete a mission by providing a mobile refueling point anywhere an aircraft is able to land and eliminating the need to return to the main base or a fueling station.
In 2020, 135th Quartermaster Company sent a platoon of Soldiers to Honduras in support of Joint Task Bravo. While there, they provided humanitarian aid during hurricanes Eta and Iota. They moved equipment, performed FARP and refueling operations, and executed ground fuel operations, which required constant travel between nearby countries.
“Our time in Honduras allowed us to gain valuable experiences doing jump-FARPs, which is where we moved from one remote location to the next, setting up and breaking down our equipment from site to site with very little support,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick Robinson, a petroleum supply specialist for 135th Quartermaster Company. “It was a great experience.”
With this training under their belt, Soldiers of the 135th Quartermaster Company are well prepared to provide support to aviation assets anywhere in the world.