AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq --
Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), refueled elements of Regimental Combat Team 5 and Taskforce Debabah in the al-Anbar Province April 5.
In a short period of time, two CH-53E Super Stallions transferred approximately 32,000 gallons of fuel to ground troops in the field. The mission allowed the ground combat element to remain on patrol rather than return to base.
According to Sgt. Uber Saucedo, M1A1 tank commander, Delta Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, rather than traveling to a forward operating base to replenish fuel stores, receiving fuel in the field saved the Marines and soldiers more than a half-day’s worth of travel.
Delivering the fuel is one of the many ways the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing maximizes the U.S. military’s effectiveness in Iraq.
“This is part of our mission, delivering cargo, personnel and supplies wherever they need to go; whether it’s supplies on the frontlines or delivering fuel in the middle of nowhere,” said Capt. John Ballenger, CH-53E pilot, HMH-361. “It’s bringing assets to the troops; their mission is that important.”
“The (ground combat element) is out there searching for insurgents and patrolling in order to keep not only the forward operating bases safe, but the outlaying countryside too,” added Ballenger, a Tulsa, Okla., native.
Seeing everyone helping each other out for a common purpose and goal makes these missions really worth it, added Ballenger.
Throughout the day, the Flying Tigers performed two separate fuel resupplies, while transporting working dog teams and explosive ordnance disposal Marines to the combat troops.
Staff Sgt. Perry Miller, CH-53E crew chief, HMH-361, feels a sense of accomplishment and pride every time he supports ground forces.
“My brother is a sergeant in the infantry at Camp Pendleton, and I hear stories about what they go through, so it feels good to do this,” said Perry, a Chinook, Mont., native.