Lajes Airmen refuel U.S. Army tugboat

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald
  • 65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 65th Air Base Wing at Lajes Field, Azores, provided support for the U.S. Army tugboat Major General Winfield Scott here today before it left for Fort Eustis, Va.

The tugboat received more than 28,000 gallons of diesel fuel and other supplies.

"The support we've received has been outstanding, and the people here are really friendly," said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Kimball, the vessel master. "We've never been somewhere where we've felt more welcome."

Chief Kimball and his team of Soldiers wrapped up a four-day stopover on the island of Terceira today. Soldiers from the 73rd Transportation Company are in the process of returning the tugboat, which has been pre-positioned in England, back into service.

Maj. Robert Hoff, the 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, said this operation puts into practice one of key missions of the 65th Air Base Wing.

"One of our wing's primary missions is to get warfighters to and from the fight," the major said. "That's exactly what this operation is all about. Not only do we do support warfighters transiting the Azores by aircraft, but we also do it in a rare instance like this when we help refuel and re-supply an Army tugboat."

He said this operation puts on display the flexibility of Airmen, especially the enlisted corps.

"Our Air Force culture encourages flexibility and the ability to think," Major Hoff said. "Our professional enlisted corps lives up to those standards every day. (They) make operations like this a success. We're able to refuel a seagoing Army tugboat using aircraft refueling means. That's quite unusual."

Preparing for such the mission took several weeks, said Master Sgt. Brian Luci, the 65th LRS fuels operations superintendent.

"It's not everyday we have the opportunity to refuel a U.S. Army tugboat," Sergeant Luci said. "We did whatever needed to be done to support their visit to the island."

Tech. Sgt. Richard Corey, the NCO in charge of preventive and refueling maintenance for the 65th LRS, explained how this unique refueling operation was accomplished.

"Normally, diesel fuel is dispensed with a 1,200-gallon tank truck," Sergeant Corey said. "This specific refueling operation, however, required us to have the capability of having 40,000 gallons of fuel available. We were able to convert one of our 6,000-gallon jet fuel trucks over to diesel to ensure the operation was done efficiently and effectively."

Major Hoff said this operation took a joint team effort.

"This is just one example of how the wing's Airmen work in a joint combined environment every day," Major Hoff said. "It would have been easy for our Airmen to have said, 'Hey, I've never refueled a ship before. I'm an aircraft refueler.'

"They saw the bigger picture," he said. "These Airmen knew their role was to get energy to things that need energy. They figured out a way to make it happen by converting an aircraft refueler into a ship refueler for an Army tugboat."

Depending on weather conditions, the Major General Winfield Scott and its ship in tow, the Colonel Seth Warner, should arrive at Fort Eustis by mid-August.