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US Army, February 16, 2020 - WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii by Sgt Sarah Sangster — “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - African Proverb
Working together is exactly what petroleum supply specialists from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, both assigned to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, did to refuel three UH-60 Black Hawks and an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter during training in Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) procedures at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Feb. 5, 2020.
Soldiers practice fueling procedures by utilizing a field expedient method commonly referred to as “Fat Cow.” This method consists of using the CH-47F Chinook helicopter from Bravo Company, 3-25 as a fuel source for other aircraft.
“There is no fancy name for this exercise; It's called “Fat Cow” because it's a big aircraft full of fuel,” said Capt. Brendan Brye, commander of Bravo Co. 3-25. “We conduct Fat Cows at least every quarter for training and certification of leaders and fuelers. We also have executed them for real world scenarios and built into future air assault operations.”
The Soldiers executing the operation know there is risk associated with completing the mission, but knew they were going to be successful.
“I just got out of advanced individual training and that was my first time fueling helicopters,” said Spc. Melissa Munisar, petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 2-25. “For me it is a little terrifying because I feel ultimately responsible if one of the birds is unable to finish the mission due to lack of fuel. But at the same time I feel very proud because the mission was able to get done and I was happy to be a part of it.”
“Depending on the configuration, a CH-47 can hold up to three external fuel tanks with a total capacity of 2,400 gallons (16,000 lbs), however we usually only utilize the one tank (800 gallon/5400 lb option) during training,” said Brye.
This method allows for Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARP) in areas where ground resources may not be feasible. A Fat Cow is a rapidly employed FARP that is ideally suited for short duration, forward operations. It is also cleared within minutes and utilizes pressure refuel for faster aircraft turnaround times.
Brye would go on to speak about how the Fat Cow is a lethality multiplier on the battlefield.
“Fat Cow exercises not only build the capability and readiness of the unit, but the event serves as a mechanism for junior leaders (both Aviation and Forward Support) to coordinate across the aviation brigade and develop a better understanding of each airframe's unique capabilities,” said Brye. “It provides forward elements (usually AH-64's) a quick refuel and rearm so they can get back to the fight and provide more station time.
Regardless of the mission, fuelers know they are depended on to make it happen.
“My platoon has a very simple motto, ‘We Don’t Stop!’,” said Sgt. Kevin Henry, a petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 3-25. “Whether my brothers and sisters-in-arms need fuel in the air or on ground this NCO is going to get you there five gallons at a time.”