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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2018

Airmen compete for spot on refueling team

By Staff Sgt. William A. O’Brien Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron is home to the only Forward Area Refueling Point team in the Air Mobility Command. FARP is a specialty within the fuels career field where members selected to the FARP team are certified to establish refueling sites and refuel airframes in austere locations.

“Our FARP team members are the cream of the crop for fuels troops,” said Lt. Col. Abbillyn Johnson, 628th LRS commander. “They’re physically and mentally tough. They’re very sharp, very focused troops. The FARP team provides a mission set to combatant commanders that nobody else in the AMC can offer.”

The FARP team here held a tryout Feb. 15, 2018 to fill the vacancy on their team. Because of the demands of the FARP mission, applicants are vetted through interviews with leadership and by participating in a hands-on skills course. The selected applicant will be sent to the week-long FARP School at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Upon completion of FARP School, the applicant becomes one of the less than 10 percent of fuels Airmen certified as a FARP operator.

“The tryout helps us determine if an applicant is physically and mentally ready to go to FARP School and perform FARP operations,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas T. Piper, 628th LRS FARP team chief. “We operate all over the world. Some places are very unforgiving. They could be working in very hot or very cold climates, doing night operations with dust and debris blowing in their faces while wearing and carrying heavy gear, so it’s important for them to be physically fit.”

The tryout consists of potential team members wearing full body armor and performing a physically demanding skills test demonstrating their ability to perform various tasks they may encounter during an actual FARP mission.

“This is a very humbling experience,” said Staff Sgt. Eddie Flint, 628th LRS fuels distribution supervisor. “It takes a lot of endurance to finish this course. At the end when it was becoming exhausting, I told myself ‘don’t stop, don’t give up on your teammates. You only have a little bit left to go.’”

Following the tryout, it is up to Piper and the squadron leadership to decide which applicant will be selected to attend FARP School.

“As far as becoming a FARP operator, I’m looking for commitment. Because with the places we go and things we do, failure is not an option. We need individuals who can be relied upon when working in a small team,” said Piper. “They’re going to get tired. They’re going to start questioning if they can finish this tryout or not and I’m looking for individuals who won’t quit and are going to push through no matter what.”

Johnson said she respects every Airman who tries out for the FARP team because she knows how hard tryouts can be, as she has tried the course herself.

“To actually put the equipment on and pull the hose a couple hundred feet was even more taxing than I imagined,” said Johnson. “It gave me a new respect for these folks, including the ones who try out and don’t make it.”