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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Cyclops fuels up 1st Tanks

By By Cpl. Isaac Lamberth | | May 04, 2012

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Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, observes fuel bladders being carried underneath a CH-53E Super Stallion en route to northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26. Two CH-53E Super Stallions from HMH-466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of fuel to 1st Tank Battalion.

Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, observes fuel bladders being carried underneath a CH-53E Super Stallion en route to northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26. Two CH-53E Super Stallions from HMH-466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of fuel to 1st Tank Battalion. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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Fuel bladders dangle from a CH-53E Super Stallion while flying to  northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26.  Two helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of JP-5 fuel to 1st Tank Battalion.

Fuel bladders dangle from a CH-53E Super Stallion while flying to northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26. Two helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of JP-5 fuel to 1st Tank Battalion. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, observes fuel bladders being carried underneath a CH-53E Super Stallion en route to northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26. Two CH-53E Super Stallions from HMH-466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of fuel to 1st Tank Battalion.

Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, observes fuel bladders being carried underneath a CH-53E Super Stallion en route to northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26. Two CH-53E Super Stallions from HMH-466 transported approximately 2,000 pounds of fuel to 1st Tank Battalion. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 adjusts cables aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion in preparation of fuel container transportation at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26. Two helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province.

Staff Sgt. Philip Michel, a Crew Chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 adjusts cables aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion in preparation of fuel container transportation at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26. Two helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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Lance Cpl. Max Humphreys (left) and Cpl. Colin Huffman, Marines with Helicopter Support Team, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepare to hook up fuel bladders to a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26.  Helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province.

Lance Cpl. Max Humphreys (left) and Cpl. Colin Huffman, Marines with Helicopter Support Team, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepare to hook up fuel bladders to a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26. Helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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Cpl. Colin Huffman, a Marine with Helicopter Support Team, 1st Marine Logistics Group, verifies all cables are properly secured to a CH-53E Super Stallion aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26.  Helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Cpl. Colin Huffman, a Marine with Helicopter Support Team, 1st Marine Logistics Group, verifies all cables are properly secured to a CH-53E Super Stallion aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 26. Helicopters from HMH-466 transported fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Photo by Cpl. Isaac Lamberth)


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CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- After being delayed by rain and high winds, a small break in the clouds opens, allowing a short window for two CH-53E Super Stallions from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 to deliver much needed fuel and supplies to 1st Tank Battalion, operating in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 26.

Undeterred by the threat of bad weather, the helicopter crews lift off and land a few hundred feet away from the airfield. Coordinating with Marines from Helicopter Support Team, 1st Marine Logistics Group, the giant Super Stallions each secure a cable to the netting holding the fuel containers. They hook up fuel bladders that carry approximately 2,000 pounds of JP-5 fuel.

Capt. James Everett, a pilot with HMH-466, said using heavy lift helicopters to resupply ground units prevents exposing convoys to attacks or improvised explosive devices.

“We can fly right over areas that are heavily occupied with the threat of IED’s or ambushes,” said Everett, of Donnelly, Idaho. “The safest way to transport a lot of food, fuel or water is by air.”

Everett said in addition to the constant threat of convoys coming under attack, delivering supplies by helicopter is a much quicker option than having convoys deliver them over treacherous terrain.

“With the kind of terrain that’s in Afghanistan, it just makes it easier on everyone to fly supplies instead of putting them on a convoy,” he said.

Once the cables are properly fastened to the cargo netting, the helicopters lift off and fly to their destination to deliver their supplies.

Captain Samuel Jones, a pilot with HMH-466 and native of Macon, Ga., said Marine Aviation exists to support the Ground Combat Element.

“Anytime we combine combat power with heavy equipment, troops and supplies, we are going to accomplish the mission.”

After flying for 20 minutes, the helicopters land and deliver their precious cargo. Marines, already on the ground, secure the fuel while crew chiefs inside the Super Stallions prepare for a hasty departure. They reel up their cables, drag cargo nets inside and take off within a matter of minutes.

Once all gear has been secured and supplies have been unloaded, the helicopters take off and head back to Camp Bastion, ready to take on their next mission of the day.

Image1st Marine Logistics Group Image1st Tank Battalion Image1st Tanks ImageAfghanistan Imagecamp bastion ImageCH-53E ImageCyclops Imagefuel Imagefuel bladder ImageHelicopter Support Team ImageHelmand Province ImageHMH-466 ImageJP-5 ImageMarine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 Imageresupply ImageSuper Stallions Imagesupplies