Marines contribute to Operation Damayan with expeditionary refueling point

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Marines refuel a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft at a forward refueling point Nov. 18 at Guiuan, Republic of the Philippines, during Operation Damayan. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Anne K. Henry)
Marines refuel a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft at a forward refueling point Nov. 18 at Guiuan, Republic of the Philippines, during Operation Damayan. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Anne K. Henry)

Marines contribute to Operation Damayan with expeditionary refueling point

by: Lance Cpl. Anne Henry | .
Okinawa Marine Staff | .
published: November 30, 2013

GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines — Marines with 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade established a forward refueling point in Guiuan, Republic of the Philippines, Nov. 16 to support ongoing relief efforts during Operation Damayan.

Guiuan was heavily impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Due to the city’s remote location, aircraft refuel there to facilitate the quick delivery of relief supplies and workers to Guiuan and other rural locations.

The Philippines and U.S. have delivered more than 1,200 tons of relief supplies and evacuated more than 10,000 people throughout the affected area. With the FARP in place, the process will be more efficient.

The FARP allows for the transportation of more supplies and evacuation of more people affected by Typhoon Haiyan, according to Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Gilyard, the expeditionary airfield emergency services officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, currently assigned to 3rd MEB in support of Joint Task Force 505. Because of the forward location, the aircraft can be refueled closer to where they are needed most.

“It is important to have this system set up in order for the rotor aircraft to fly a full payload from here to the affected areas,” said Gilyard. “It gives them more time here where they are needed instead of flying back and forth between their home station to refuel.”

With large portions of the affected area unreachable by land or sea, the FARP brings a critical and unique asset to the relief effort, allowing aircraft to shuttle supplies around the clock, according to Lance Cpl. Colby Heabner, a bulk fuel specialist with MWSS-172.

“Our mission here at the FARP is to keep the aircraft coming in,” said Heabner. “Today we had about 13,000 gallons of fuel and refueled about 15 to 20 aircraft. The FARP itself only took us about six hours to set up.” Haiyan impacted more than 4.2 million people from across 36 provinces in the Philippines, according to the Philippine government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The role of the U.S. military forces during any foreign humanitarian assistance event is to rapidly respond with support to help mitigate human suffering, prevent further loss of life, and mitigate great property damage.

“The key to this situation is teamwork,” said Gilyard. “It is impossible to describe the kind of damage and devastation that has occurred in this country. It takes your breath away and makes you step back and think. It makes you want to be right beside those people who are out there helping.”