Air re-supply vital during CHINA SHOP 2

12 Jul 2007 | Sgt. Andy Hurt 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Aircraft and personnel from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron - 466 and Medium Marine Helicopter Squadron -163 provided Tactical Fuel Bulk Dispensing capabilities July 7 to elements of Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines in support of Operation CHINA SHOP II.

The TFBD was conducted on the third morning of the operation and was carefully coordinated during mission planning in order to lighten carrying loads and extend operational range, according to Capt. Gordon “Goose” Topper, BLT 3/1 Forward Air Controller and AH-1W Super Cobra pilot.

In addition to 800 gallons of fuel, the re-supply mission also brought food and water to battalion Marines conducting the operation.

Topper, a Baltimore native, said this, the second of such re-supply missions, was a huge success.

“All of the air support we have gotten in theater has been exceptional,” he said. “The level of professionalism and coordination has been excellent.”

Topper pointed out that as BLT 3/1 continues counter-insurgency operations here, air support is playing a vital role in operational success, from casualty evacuation to reconnaissance and re-supply.

“With the high ‘op tempo’ and number of named operations we’re doing, we’re getting a lot of air support,” he said. “It’s definitely keeping me busy.”

The 13th MEU, although spread out over northern Al Anbar province, was able to use organic air assets through missions like the re-supply.

When CH-53E Super Stallion birds landed on the deck during CHINA SHOP II, Marines from the MEU’s HMM-163 “Evil Eyes” squadron began pumping fuel into battalion vehicles – fulfilling the satisfaction of “wingers” who are not normally able to see the outcome of air support at such close range.

Sergeant Justin Dandois, a CH-53E crew chief with HMM-163, expressed gratification of supporting familiar Marines during combat operations.

“This is my BLT,” said the Washington, D.C. native, “giving them chow and fuel so they can get the job done … I mean, that’s all the validation I need.”

For more information about the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Battalion Landing Team 3/1 or HMM - 163, visit the MEU Web site at

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit