By Sgt. 1st Class Howard Reed (Japan)November 1, 2012
The unit's motto is "proud to pump". It speaks volumes to the unit's commitment serving as the Army's only active-duty petroleum pipeline operating unit.
The 505th is responsible for handling strategic bulk fuels in support of the Department of Defense activities while maintaining the United States Pacific Command's war reserve petroleum objectives.
"If United States Army Pacific or United States Army Japan need to move things around it takes fuel and that's what we do, but we really provide fuel to all services throughout the pacific command." said Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Leeds, commander, 505th Quartermaster Battalion.
The 505th operates and maintains a massive 100-mile steel under ground petroleum pipeline system on Okinawa. The goal for the battalion is to receive, test, store and issue fuels that are essential to everyday life for DoD entities regardless of service component. The unit is a direct fuel supplier whether it's aviation, diesel or automotive fuel.
Staff Sgt. Jaime Poole, petroleum laboratory specialist, 505th Quartermaster, says the fuel originates from various locations throughout the Defense Logistic Agency's Energy Defense fuel points around the pacific.
"DLA owns the fuel and we basically have the primary responsibility to ensure the fuel is safe for use, we take pride in what we do not only as a representative of the Army on the island but for the pacific and the Army as a whole." said Poole.
It takes approximately 40 personnel to work the fuel mission when it arrives to Okinawa. In addition to divers and others who work on guiding the tankers into to the area and other support operations, the 505th focuses on ensuring the fuel's safety and quality.
To accomplish this, the 505th relies on two petroleum operations sections, quality analysis and quality assurance, the moment fuel arrives on island. The quality analysis section pulls fuel samples from the tanker and takes it back to the lab to assess if the incoming fuel has water or other harmful particles that will affect the end user. The quality assurance section then assists with the transfer of the fuel from the tanker and its transportation to the end user.
Sgt. Jarrod Stegall, petroleum laboratory specialist, 505th Quartermaster, works in the quality analysis section and says his job is rewarding in the fact he rarely got a chance to test fuel at his last duty station. He also added it takes everyone to ensure the mission is complete.
"We rely heavily on the other guys in the quality assurance shop, it's a team effort and that's what it's all about, we work as a team, to include DoD contractors and local nationals, and that's important." said Stegall.
The unit receives about 90 missions annually which half are coordinated with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. The 505th is involved with every phase of the military's petroleum operations in the pacific with the exception of rail transportation services. Annually the unit receives and distributes well over 56 million gallons of fuel.
The unit continues to showcase its ability to transform the world of fuel operations on Okinawa.
In February the 505th took charge and united the other services on island to sign a joint service agreement that spells out policy and procedures on how to react to a catastrophic fuel spill.
"Each service understood the need and agreed that a joint effort and response team was necessary and signed the Okinawa Joint Fuel Spill Response memorandum." Said Leeds
The unit has a long-standing tradition of being the best at petroleum operations to include winning the 2010 Distinguished Unit of the Quartermaster Regiment Award and the 2004 Army Petroleum Institute Award for Excellence in fixed facility petro operations.
The American Petroleum Institute is an internationally recognized trade organization for the petroleum industry. It sets standards and provides technical direction for all aspects of petroleum production, refining, measurement, and fuel handling on a worldwide basis. The 505th earned the award because of its top notch fuel handling operations.
"If there isn't good quality fuel ships don't sail, planes don't fly and vehicles don't move. So we understand that and really like our job," said Poole.