AL ASAD, Iraq -- Throughout the first two weeks of October, Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 received training from their Army counterparts to better understand the fueling operations of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at Al Asad, Iraq.
Upon arriving at the air base in September, the bulk fuels specialists with MWSS-273, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), realized that in order to maintain safety standards and maximize efficiency, they needed more training.
After the need for training was established, the Marines got in contact with the Army's 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, which has been stationed here since February.
"The Marines identified a lack of training," said Army Maj. Edward C. Cox, company commander, Echo Company, 2/224. "We are helping them out by training them so we can ensure safety standards are maintained."
One of the biggest reasons the Marines received the training is because the Marine refuelers don't usually connect the fuel lines to the aircraft, but according to Army regulations, members of the flight crew cannot do it either.
"The Marines usually hand off the fuel line to someone with the crew of the aircraft," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Arturo R. Robinson, Echo Company platoon sergeant, 2/224. "This can pose a threat to the mission if the crewmember happens to spill fuel on him or herself, because according to naval air regulations, if a crewmember is doused with a petroleum product, the mission must be cancelled."
"Our main mission is to keep the air crew ready to fly at all times," said Cox. "This also puts the (bulk fuels specialist) in total control in case there is ever a problem during the fueling process."
Although the Marines go to the same school that the soldiers go to, the new advancements in technology and equipment on the Blackhawk requires up-to-date training.
The training sessions cover everything from grounding the helicopter to actually pumping the fuel into the birds.
"This training helps us familiarize ourselves with the hazards we can encounter when refueling the UH-60 helicopter," said Staff Sgt. Sylvia Dotson, fuel farm chief, MWSS-273.
The overall purpose of the training is to give the crew of the aircraft the opportunity to pay attention to their aircraft and give the fuelers the chance to be more aware of their operations, according to Robinson.
Throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marines and soldiers have worked together to complete the mission that has been given to them.
"This training gives us the opportunity to work side-by-side with the Marines," said Army Staff Sgt. Arthur L. Williams, Echo Company section sergeant, 2/224. "We are learning just as much from them throughout this training as they are from us."
"Overall this training is a big win for aviation safety and for the camaraderie that is being built between our soldiers and the Marines," said Cox.
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