News

Marines Help Iraqis Unload Fuel

28 Aug 2003 | Sgt. Matthew Miller

Marines of Bulk Fuel Company, Combat Service Support Group-11 recently began taking their skills to the local railway station and fuel depot.  There they unload up to 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day for the citizens of Ad Diwaniya.

Combat Service Support Group-11 has been filling more than 200 vehicles per day with up to 30,000 gallons of JP-8 fuel, and still finds time to empty the railroad cars of diesel fuel for the local Iraqi town.

"The Bulk Fuelers, seized a great opportunity," according to Navy Lt. Michael Leonard, CO, Engineer Company, CSSG-11. "We were working across the street helping the Army pump fuel from the Army tankers, then we noticed the railcars were coming in here and that they also needed help. The bulk fuelers took a lot of initiative, were proactive, came out here and figured out how to do it."

The "figuring out" meant finding a way to hook their 4-inch hoses from 600 gallons per minute pumps up to the 3-inch and 2½-inch nozzles attached to the 42 gpm pumps that the Iraqis were using. The solution ended up being to create makeshift nozzles and connections to keep the fuel flowing from the railcars, through pump and into the local fuel depot.  The Marines determined the best way to construct the connectors and used skills from local Iraqis to put them together.

"We had to configure an adapter," said Gunnery Sgt. Roosevelt Howard, Fuels Chief, Bulk Fuels Co., CSSG-11. "The Iraqi people that work here are very good at welding, so they welded a few pieces for us, we hooked up our 4-inch line and went to work."

When all the pieces were in place, the Marines got to work pumping fuel faster than the Iraqis had been able to do it before.

"The bulk fuel Marines basically reduced the download time by 90% from five hours per rail car to 30 minutes because of the pumps and the manifold system that we have," said Leonard, a Navy Civil Engineer, temporarily assigned to the bulk fuel company trough an exchange program.

"From the information we received, it takes them approximately four days to unload 14 railcars," said Lance Cpl. Ryan Markel, Bulk Fuel Specialist, CSSG-11. "We're pretty much able to take the fourteen cars that they're able to do in four days and get it accomplished in six to eight hours."

Getting more diesel fuel unloaded and into the hands of local civilians greatly improved the town residents' quality of life. Almost everything they do revolves around the fuel that the Marines were pumping.

"I've been talking to them, and they said they use about a million gallons a day," Howard said. "They use the fuel for cooking, for their vehicles, and to run their generators.  Basically their environment is geared around the diesel fuel that they're using."

"For me, I think it's one of the more rewarding aspects of our job that we've been able to accomplish so far," said Markel, a 28-year-old native of West Hills, Calif. "You get to see that you're helping the Iraqi civilians. You can see that they are grateful day-in and day-out. They come out and greet you.  They try to help you as much as they can."

The Marines plan on keeping the fuel flowing just as quickly after they leave.

"We're going to try to procure them another 600 gpm pump like the one we're using right now," said Leonard, a 31-year-old native of Las Vegas, give them the hoses, give them the stuff they need to get started so that they can do this on their own."

As their time in Iraq comes to a close, the Marines are not only taking the time to provide a service to the local town of Ad Diwaniya, they are also training and equipping the residents to provide this service for themselves.

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