Fueling The Fight

Story by SGT Andrew Kuhn on 06/29/2018
CAMP GRAYLING JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Mich.
Her green eyes focus steadily through her translucent safety glasses at the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) approaching down the dirt road from the west. A protective black apron drapes over her neck, hugging her petite frame to shield her from any possible splashes or spills of the dangerous materials around her. With thick gloves donned, she comfortably grips the fuel hose nozzle and prepares to accomplish the mission she's been training several months for.

Several hundred miles from her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Pvt. Kayla Day, a petroleum supply specialist with Company A, 237th Brigade Support Battalion is responsible for managing the storage, shipping and dispensing of bulk fuels to other Ohio Army National Guard units, as they accomplish their nearly two-week-long annual training (AT) at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center in Grayling, Mich.

Day says that after completing 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, she began Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Lee, Va. in November 2017 and recently graduated in February 2018.

During AIT, Soldiers are taught about how to operate pumps, pipelines and tanker equipment such as the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) A4 M978A4 Fuel Servicing Truck (Tanker), which is designed to transport approximately 2,500 gallons of fuel.

"Some of what we do here is familiar," explains Day. "During AIT, they taught us about the HEMTT and about the valves on the back that you use for fueling, so I was able to remember back to some of the things that we learned and do it."

Petroleum supply specialists are crucial this AT, assuring that units have the means necessary to transport supplies and personnel to training sites, as well as facilitating the support staff such as culinary, medical, communication and maintenance specialists in completing their daily operations.

"Our job is to help keep everything running smoothly, to help keep vehicles going from point to point and to get where they need to be," Day says. "Without fuel there would be a lot of training and things that would take much longer to get done."

Day says that much of her prior training was scholastic-based rather than a field environment in which students could train hands-on, but the change of pace this AT has benefitted her greatly.

"It's not as hands-on at AIT, but it's more by the books, and they just show you the stuff on the truck," Day said. "My favorite part about all of this is actually fueling the vehicles... I am learning something new, and I am actually getting to do my job every day."

At 7 a.m., as the sun pushed its way up the blue summer sky, Day's first shift kicked off, bringing a concoction of emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness.

"It was actually a lot easier than I thought." Day recalls. "I looked at it like, 'this is going to be hard,' but it really wasn't. They showed me one time, and I got it the first time."

As each vehicle approaches, it takes a cohesive team to flow through the motions: completing Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) on the HEMTT for functionality, signaling the oncoming vehicle for alignment alongside the massive vessel, rotating multiple valves on the truck to get the fuel flowing, and completing documentation about the vehicle receiving service.

"There's more than just me doing it," Day said. "What I got to do was move the valves on the truck to actually get the fuel going through the hose, and every day I'll rotate positions."

As a novice to her Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), it is important that Day is confident in her abilities to complete her role, as well as the roles of her peers and direct supervisors in case anything should ever happen. This annual training provides her with just that, more than 150 opportunities to observe and execute each role that a petroleum supply specialist would facilitate as each vehicle receives fuel from her station.

"Because I feel like I don't really know as much about my MOS, hopefully at the end of AT I'll know a lot more about it and will be able to do my job better." Day said. "I want to become more proficient at my job and know exactly what we do and why we do what we do."

Ohio Army National Guard Soldiers are constantly training to perfect their skills in order to maintain a "Fight Tonight" status, ready to deploy at a moment's notice to the most austere environments the world has to offer, confident in successfully completing their missions.



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