YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. --
Marines in the desert here refueled helicopters carrying riflemen from an oceangoing ship 200 miles away, allowing a heliborne raid company to press on to its nighttime training objective miles away Aug. 17.
Marines serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s reinforced helicopter squadron had two days earlier set up and manned the forward arming-and-refueling point so CH-46E Sea Knights could fly Company I Marines and Navy corpsmen inland from USS Makin Island off Southern California’s coast and safely cover the distance.
Operating at night, the squadron’s bulk-fuel specialists filled seven helicopters and conducted hot refuels – basically refueling aircraft not completely shut down.
“This exercise demonstrated the capabilities of bulk-fuel specialists, air-traffic controllers and pilots, and it shows we can operate in a temporary position,” said bulk-fuel specialist Lance Cpl. Michael B. McGuiness.
The unit – scheduled to deploy this fall to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions – began a sea-based exercise Aug. 10, its first aboard amphibious ships since becoming a complete Marine air-ground task force in May.
The rifle company is one of three in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. Reinforced, the battalion serves as the unit’s ground combat element, while Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) serves as the unit’s aviation combat element.
“The Marines did a great job. They were able to battle the 100-degrees-plus weather, stay up late hours … still provide refueling, and resupply the Marines to get the long-range mission accomplished,” said Master Sgt. Mack Hall, the refueling point staff noncommissioned officer in charge.