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FARP crew in Iraq is the 'NASCAR pit crew of aviation'

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One thing the pilots of the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade don’t have to worry about when executing a plan is fuel, thanks to the oldiers who operate the post’s Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP).

“We are like the NASCAR pit crew of aviation,” said 1st Lt. Marcellus Richardson, FARP officer in charge, and a native of Los Angeles. “Pilots fly in for a quick pit stop and we fuel them, arm them, and send them on their way.”

Pilots are able to fly into the FARP at anytime to receive fuel. The FARP is run by soldiers of the 640th Aviation Support Battalion, from Los Alamitos, Calif., who are deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

“We run 24-hour operations here,” said Richardson. “So far on this deployment I have overseen more than 200,000 gallons of fuel into more than 1,500 aircraft.”

On any average day the FARP pumps more than 7,000 gallons of gas and up to 40,000 gallons a week, said Spc. Susana Lopez, a resident of San Jose, Calif., and fuel accountant at the FARP.

“When we fuel the aircraft, we’ve got to do it fast,” said Sgt. Michael Hamlett, an aircraft refueler from El Cajon, Calif. “The pilots have a mission to do so we get them out as quickly and safely as possible.”

When dealing with helicopters, safety is of the utmost of importance, commented Staff Sgt. Maritza Marquez, non-commissioned officer in charge of the FARP.

“The soldiers here take their job very seriously,” said Marquez, who is from Riverside, Calif. “They love what they do and it shows in their work. They’re safe, fast, professional and get the job done.”

Article by Spc. Darriel Swatts, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade