Photo Information

A C-130J with Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 252, comes in for a landing at Blackstone Army Air Field, near Fort Pickett, Va., April 28, 2007. The aircraft came to set up a Rapid Ground Refueling point to refuel humvees and Light Armored Vehicles from Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines and Sailors of BLT 3/8 are scheduled to deploy as the Ground Combat Element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matt Epright)

Photo by Sgt. Matt Epright

Hercules crew brings fuel to the fight for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit

28 Apr 2007 | Sgt. Matt Epright

In World War II, Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army rolled through every enemy obstacle it came up against. The only thing able to halt the juggernaut was a critical shortage of essential supplies, most importantly - fuel for combat vehicles.

In modern warfare, squadrons like Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) help ensure such fuel shortages don't happen.

During the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's Realistic Urban Training exercise here, VMGR-252 was on call for a number of different refueling missions.

One of the missions VMGR-252 performed during the exercise was a Rapid Ground Refueling.

With newly updated C-130J Hercules aircraft, VMGR-252 is able to bring as much as 50,000 pounds of fuel to remote field locations for any military vehicles or aircraft that need it.

Crew chief Lance Cpl. Aaron Webster says the aircraft can deploy for a ground refueling mission in a "moment's notice" if the plane is pre-stocked with the necessary kit of hoses and nozzles.

Though VMGR-252 is based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., for this mission, the plane flew out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., and landed at Blackstone Army Airfield near Fort Pickett, Va.

As soon as the plane came to a stop on the landing strip, the aircraft's crew sprang out the back ramp, unrolling fuel hoses, connecting nozzles and setting out fire extinguishers for safety.

The loadmasters organized the layout of the fuel site and directed the vehicles that came to refuel.

This particular mission gave loadmaster Sgt. Mark Chapman an opportunity to gain necessary qualification checks to be able to run similar missions in the future.

"It's very loadmaster intensive," said Capt. Kurt Pfeffer, one of the aircraft's pilots.

Even so, he added, each crewmember trains in all aspects of all missions to be able to better support each other.

The crews for the squadron's individual planes change frequently, as they are tailored to each mission.

Though they don't consistently work together, the mixed crew of pilots, crew chiefs and loadmasters can set up a fuel site within minutes of landing.

The squadron has only performed the mission in training, so they look for every opportunity to practice.

"These kinds of missions are few and far between," said Webster. "You have to take advantage of it when you can."

The Rapid Ground Refueling brings an important capability to the 22nd MEU, especially when the unit is offshore.

"It enables us to do long range operations," said 22nd MEU Air Officer Maj. Brent Lawniczak. "We can launch farther out and get fuel on the front-side of a mission, do the mission and get fuel for the way back."

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261(Reinforced); and Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22. For more information on the MEU's upcoming deployment, visit the unit's website at
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit