AL ASAD, Iraq -- The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) is comprised of several different squadrons. Many of the squadrons within the wing are augmented by Marines from other units all around the country. The Sweathogs from Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, home based in Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., are making their mark in Iraq. The Hogs have joined forces with MWSS-271, the Work Horses of Cherry Point, N.C.
The Sweathogs sent more than 30 Marines to augment MWSS-271 as the support squadron works around the clock to keep the wing in fighting form.
The bulk fuel specialists are no exception. Eighteen Sweathogs augment the fuels division of MWSS-271 Work Horses and work along side their North Carolina counterparts.
“I want to be here,” said Cpl. Joshua Perrella, bulk fuel specialist, MWSS-271 and Taylors, S.C., native. “I was here during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and wanted to be here for the second part, but I was changing stations. When the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to do my part again.”
Bulk fuel specialists do not get a lot of time back in the rear to do their jobs,” Perrella continued. “We inventory the gear and refuel aircraft during field exercises. The majority of our time in the rear is spent preparing for our next deployment.”
The Marines have been busy splitting 24-hours shift, refueling an average of 50-60 aircraft a day.
“During the change between the 3rd MAW and 2nd MAW we were refueling upwards of 90 birds a day,” Perrella said.
The bulk fuels Marines here are split into two crews, one crew handles airplanes while the other handles helicopters. The Marines, who oversee more than 150,000 gallons of fuel, spend their shifts testing the fuel as well as checking and maintaining their equipment in between fill-ups.
“Our job isn’t complex,” said Lance Cpl. John Bailey, bulk fuel specialist, MWSS-271 and Georgetown, Del., native. “It is a simple process, but it is vital to the mission. We have aircraft that land for fuel and return to the sky for another mission. Without us they would not be able to get off the ground.”
The Marines at the fuel point are required to refuel aircraft throughout the night, which presents unique problems when fueling aircraft in the dark.
But no challenge is too large to overcome. Using light sticks and flashlights the Marines have developed a procedure to safely fuel aircraft in the dark.
With the help of the Sweathogs, MWSS-271 is able to get the job done.
“We help support the squadrons in any way we can,” Perrella said. “We’re here to accomplish our mission and be good representatives of the Sweathogs. So that’s what we’re doing.”