MSSG-26 Marines become 'gas station attendants' in field

5 Apr 2001 | Cpl. Thomas Michael Corcoran

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit traded in their Kevlar helmets for "Jiffy Mart" caps at Fort Pickett, Va., April 5, during an exercise designed to get fuel and supplies to units in forward positions in the field.

The Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-365 (Reinforced) also known as the "Blue Knights, delivered fuel, water and other supplies so MEU Service Support Group-26 could set up a Jiffy Mart, said 1st Lt. Thomas J. Schmidt, MSSG-26 engineer platoon commander.  "The Jiffy Mart is basically one stop shopping for the BLT (Battalion Landing Team).  We can provide food, fuel, water and maintenance support to the BLT," said the native of New Orleans.

The Jiffy Mart, which is the affectionate name for the Forward Armament and Refueling Point, was set up on site utilizing two methods of transportation, said Sgt. Jason R. Sullivan, MSSG-26 landing support specialist.  The Marine from Hibbing, Minn., explained that for training purposes the supplies were brought by both land convoy and air lift.

"This type of operation is normally used deep in the battle area, where ground convoys are not practical.  Air is much faster and more practical under these circumstances," said Schmidt explaining FARPs used in combat operations.

Lt. Col. William Faulkner, MSSG-26 commanding officer, explained his Marines' role in the operation as simply to support the BLT's Light Armored Reconnaissance unit with food, ammunition and fuel in the field so they may continue to fight the "war." 

"We have all three elements tied in this early in our workups.  Pretty aggressive right from the get-go," said Faulkner adding that everything was working well.

"We can fly in quickly, set up sustainment, sustain the war fighter up front and then we turn around and extract," said Faulkner.  "It's expeditionary and we don't have a very big footprint, we can do a lot of it by helicopter which lessens the threat."

As the 26th MEU begins preparation for deployment, its elements are already moving closer to a cohesive working relationship.  A close relationship this early in the game may foretell the MEU's latter success in the Mediterranean.