IE SHIMA, OKINAWA, Japan --
Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, currently attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted rapid ground refueling training here Aug. 12.
The training was intended to increase the rapid ground refueling skills of the Marines.
“Our job is to find a usable space for the aircraft to land on, and use it as a forward refueling point,” said Sgt. Aaron Klopf, air traffic controller with the squadron.
Rapid ground refueling is not the primary job of these Marines, so the training gave them a better understanding of how RGR works and what needs to be done to get in and get out as fast as possible, Klopf said.
“We don’t do this training often, especially on island, so it’s important that we do it right and that we are thorough,” said Klopf.
Since helicopters are limited in the distance they can travel without refueling, an RGR allows the aircraft to refuel between their objective points.
Marines with 7th Communications Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, left Marine Corps Air Station Futenma via KC-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft for Ie Shima, an island off the coast of Okinawa, prior to the refueling training. The battalion set up communications and designated runway space for the aircraft to land and operate.
Once a runway was established, three CH-46 Sea Knight Helicopters with HMM-265 flew in and taxied behind the C-130. One-by-one, each aircraft refueled and reorganized for retrograde back to MCAS Futenma.
“This training will definitely help us be better prepared as the situation calls,” said Lance Cpl. David Odle, an air support network operator with HMM-265.
In a real world scenario, the helicopters might be transporting anything from actual Marines or ammunition or may even be conducting a medical evacuation, according to 1st Lt. Frederic J. Smith, Marine Mobile Team officer-in-charge, with the squadron.
In any case where time is sensitive, the aircrafts need to be able to touch down, refuel and get back in the air as quickly as possible, said Smith.
This training helps ensure speed and proficiency when refueling, he added.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the United States’ force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.