1/21/2014 -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Truck drivers bear the huge responsibility of keeping their cargo and those around them on the road safe. For Marines transporting precious cargo such as fuel in a combat environment or in support of humanitarian missions, the stakes are even higher.
Fourteen Marines participating in the Semitrailer Refueler Operator’s Course understand the importance of their vehicles and cargo: it’s a way to keep Marine Corps equipment and vehicles running so they can be more effective, regardless of the mission.
Instructors with Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, are teaching a three-week SROC course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. During the course, motor transportation Marines with 1st MLG are learning how to operate MK970 semitrailer refuelers and MK31 tactical tractors.
“The course gives Marines the tools and knowledge to operate equipment necessary for providing fuel for both ground and air assets,” said Sgt. Marcus Johnson, an instructor with CLR-1, 1st MLG.
One important aspect of the course is safety, and instructors teach classes on preventive maintenance checks and services, emergency procedures and fuel safety. Accidents can be avoided by ensuring the vehicles are well maintained and serviced regularly. Simple checks, such as ensuring the tactical tractor and cargo are properly attached, can prevent incidents like fuel spills and potential vehicle fires.
“Throughout the course, the students learn how to operate the vehicle, safely dispense fuel to different air and ground equipment and troubleshoot any problems that might arise,” said Cpl. Moses L. Perkins, a semitrailer refueler operator with General Service Motor Transportation Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and assistant instructor for the course.
Special attention is given to the care of fuel during any trip to ensure it remains free of debris and impurities so that fuel system components for vehicles and aircraft are not damaged.
“The Marines have to think about how the fuel affects different ground and aviation equipment,” said Perkins, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. “For example, aircraft require more filtration than ground equipment. You always have to keep the fuel pure so that it can keep the equipment running.”
Each refueler holds approximately 4,900 gallons of fuel, providing forward units with an increased range of operations in a combat environment or during humanitarian missions by allowing them to travel longer distances and keep utility equipment operating.
“The semitrailer refueler reduces the amount of assets Marines carry during deployment because it holds so much fuel compared to other Marine Corps equipment,” said Johnson, a native of Amarillo, Texas. “It gives Marines a portable way to push out a larger amount of fuel within a shorter span of time.”
This knowledge extends beyond just their individual units. Marines are able to cover a wider range of missions and become subject matter experts for their respective vehicles.
“It’s useful for me when I get out in the civilian world if I end up working in the logistics industry,” said Lance Cpl. Ary Leura, a student with General Service Motor Transportation Co., CLR-1, 1st MLG, and native of Houston, Texas. “It gives me a wider range of experiences that I can market to my [future] employers.”
For Leura and the other students, the course has only begun. Within the next three weeks, they will need to prove themselves capable of applying the knowledge they learn from the intensive classroom training by driving approximately 180 miles and performing fuel dispensing procedures properly. Although it can become mentally straining at times, it’s a small price to pay to ensure the Marine Corps functions like a well-oiled machine.