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API awards MWSS-371 for duty beyond expectations

By Pfc. Mauro Sanchez | | April 18, 2006

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Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 fuels branch received the American Petroleum Institute Award for excellence in fuels management April 18 at the Worldwide Energy Conference in Washington, D. C.

The API award recognizes the personnel and activities that made the most significant contribution to Navy fuel operations and fleet support missions during the preceding year.

Receiving the award for MWSS-371 were gunnery sergeants Warren Ewalt, MWSS-371 fuels chief, and Lee Duncan, MWSS-371 bulk fuel team leader.

Duncan was also the recipient of API’s Bulk Fuel Staff Noncommissioned Officer of the Year award, which he received in conjunction with the award for excellence.

MWSS-371 competed against and beat out nearly 15 other Marine Corps support units earning the title for the first time.

“(MWSS-371) won because of (its) professional and tactical proficiency,” said Ewalt. “(MWSS-371) is one of the most well-rounded wing support squadrons in the Marine Corps.”

However, the people who deserve the bulk of the credit are the Marines who are out in the scorching heat working day in and day out and the NCOs who lead them, said Duncan.

The NCOs possessed the capability to work with little supervision, added Duncan. They were given basic guidance and were able to run with it and perform above and beyond expectations.

However, there were many units that contributed to the success of the fuels division, especially Marines from the heavy equipment, motor transport maintenance and communications fields, said Duncan.

“They helped us build new fuel farms from scratch when we were in Iraq,” he added. “The equipment guys laid out the roads, transport kept our vehicles running and communications made sure there were no problems staying in contact with each other. Without the help of every unit in (MWSS-371) we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Duncan said he wanted the entire squadron to feel proud because it was a group effort and a well-deserved recognition.

With this award, the Marines who work in the fuels division can see the importance of what they do and know their efforts do not go unnoticed, said Duncan.

“It was about time someone recognized our work,” said Lance Cpl. Javier Rincon, MWSS-371 bulk fuel specialist. “It feels good to know what we do matters.”

“I just see it as another goal accomplished,” said Lance Cpl. Brett Thames, MWSS-371 bulk fuel specialist. “We’ll continue to set the standard and strive to do well.”

“At this rate, with the squadron continually improving, we’ll be able to repeat our performance and get the (API) award again next year,” said Sgt. Jorge Baez-Colon, MWSS-371 bulk fuel noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

MWSS-371 has worked with every flying unit and squadron that has come through Yuma, he added. They continually support the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and overcome the obstacles they face, including the addition of new Marines who came to MWSS-371, he added.

The bulk fuel Marines were able to come together and work flawlessly, said Thames. MWSS-371 worked together exceptionally well because they knew what was expected, and they were able to perform above and beyond.

They were able to perform all the duties that were asked of them, added Sgt. Lokai Laughter, MWSS-371 bulk fuel platoon sergeant. Through their dedication, knowledge and sense of duty -- all things that make a Marine -- they were able to earn this award.

From here, MWSS-371 will continue to strive and train for the future, said Duncan. They have set the standard and will always maintain it.

“All we need to know is when, where and how much and we’ll be there,” he added.

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