DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 056
Tactical Petroleum Terminal
SSG Thomas E. Carpenter, 173d Quartermaster Company
SPC Stanley R. Wilhyt, 374th Quartermaster Battalion
Interview Conducted 23 February 1991 at Logistical Base CHARLIE, Northern Province, Saudi Arabia
Interviewers: SSG LaDona S. Kirkland and MAJ Robert B. Honec, III (116th Military History Detachment), and SGT Dorothy L. McNeil (130th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 056
SSG KIRKLAND: This is SSG LaDona S. Kirkland, accompanied by MAJ Robert B. Honec [also of the 116th Military History Detachment] and SGT Dorothy L. McNeil [of the 130th Military History Detachment]. This is a [Operation] DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD tape. The date is the 23d of February, 1991. I am talking with SSG Thomas E. Carpenter; first name T-H-O-M-A-S, middle initial E, last name is spelled C-A-R-P-E-N-T-E-R, and he is with the Mississippi [Army] Reserves. That is the 173d Quartermaster Company. And we are here at the TPT, which is the Tactical Petroleum Terminal at Log[istical] Base CHARLIE.
Okay, could you tell me what the mission is here; the primary mission?
SSG CARPENTER: The mission here is to support elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps--all the elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps--with three types of [fuel] products that we have on hand: Jet-A, MOGAS, and diesel. That is our primary mission.
MAJ HONEC: Could you spell Jet-A, please? This is MAJ Honec.
SSG CARPENTER: J-E-T dash A.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. When did you arrive in country?
SSG CARPENTER: We arrived at Dhahran, [Saudi Arabia], 1 December 1990.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. And when did you finally get to Log Base CHARLIE?
SSG CARPENTER: January 17, 1991.
SSG KIRKLAND: And were there any problems in the deployment coming from the United States to Dhahran?
SSG CARPENTER: Is that on?
SSG KIRKLAND: It sure is. Do you want me to stop it?
SSG CARPENTER: First of all, we are a petroleum unit. I mean, we are a petroleum unit. That is our mission. We underwent certain types of training which we shouldn't have been going ... like recon[naissance] patrolling, calling in fire. You know, can you imagine a petroleum unit calling in for an air strike right out in front of 6.3 million gallons of fuel?
SSG KIRKLAND: This was the training that you had at the mobilization station at Fort Rucker, [Alabama]?
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: So your unit from Mississippi went over to Fort Rucker and that is where you mobilized through?
SSG CARPENTER: Right. Some of the training didn't even apply to our mission. We could have spent a lot of that time OJT-ing [On-the-Job Training], or MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] training. We didn't get a chance to do much of that. It was like the Second [US] Army ... we were under the Second Army, and they were training us on recon, calling in fire, just a lot of infantry-type skills that we're not using over here now and probably won't never use. That's my gripe, I think.
SSG KIRKLAND: And how long were you at the mobilization station?
SSG CARPENTER: We were mobilized October 11. We left Greenwood, Mississippi, October 14. We departed Fort Rucker, Alabama, November 31--or November 30, excuse me.
SSG KIRKLAND: And arrived here in Dhahran the 1st of December?
SSG CARPENTER: The 1st of December.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. I see that you do a lot of business with the host nationals [contract personnel under the host nation support program].
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: What do they do? They deliver ... ?
SSG CARPENTER: They deliver the product from different terminals throughout Saudi Arabia: the west coast, Dhahran, and also from other log bases that we have, like Log Base ALPHA, [Log Base] ECHO.
SSG KIRKLAND: What do your people do when they arrive--the host people?
SSG CARPENTER: First of all, we do ... we verify the product. The second thing, we make sure that the product is good, meets specifications. Then we stage the trucks for off-loading ... off-load them, and send them back on their way to be refilled again.
MAJ HONEC: This is MAJ Honec. You say you verify the product. How do you do that?
SSG CARPENTER: Pull a sample. First of all, we pull a sample, test it with a hydrometer. Also we do a visual check on it to make sure there is no water [or] a lot of sediment. And then if it's okay, we dump it. If it's not okay, we hold it back. We have had some instances where we have had to hold seven or eight trucks. When we first started they had a lot of salt water in them.
SSG KIRKLAND: So what did you do? You just held them? How long did you hold them for?
SSG CARPENTER: Held them ... had them tested over here.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Another question is ... this is MAJ Honec ... is there a language barrier with the host nation drivers?
SSG CARPENTER: There was until we had a representative from Samarec [the government-owned wholesale and retail petroleum company of Saudi Arabia] come up and gave us kind of like an Arabic 101 class.
MAJ HONEC: Great.
SSG CARPENTER: He gave all the lab[oratory] people and myself enough words so now we pretty well communicate with them. We know a few words. We also know some hand signals we do like "start engine," "come with me."
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You were not trained in this back at your mobilization station?
SSG CARPENTER: No, we were not trained in this.
MAJ HONEC: But it was an essential to your mission as could be?
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Thank you very much.
SSG KIRKLAND: So if I was a host national, how would you greet me when I came back in my truck?
SSG CARPENTER: Like that--hi.
SSG KIRKLAND: You would throw up your right hand?
SSG CARPENTER: Right hand. Don't use the left hand1 ...
SSG KIRKLAND: Of course not. What would you say to them?
SSG CARPENTER: Paper. That's the first thing we do. We do like this ... with my left hand ... hold my left hand down, like we've got a pencil.
MAJ HONEC: With the right hand, like you are writing on your left hand with a pencil?
SSG CARPENTER: Right. That way, we get their paperwork from Samarec, which we take in there and document on our paperwork. Then we test it.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. This is MAJ Honec. Samarec is spelled S-A-M- ...
SSG CARPENTER: -A-R-E-C.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
SSG KIRKLAND: Where is this company out of?
SSG CARPENTER: All over Saudi Arabia, just like: Tebuk; Dhahran; Aswan--no not Aswan, Al Jawah; Al Jubayl.
MAJ HONEC: This is MAJ Honec. It is the Saudi Arabian Oil Company?
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: We are accompanied here by another member of the 173d. Could you please state your name, please? You're on the tape, so I'm going to have to get your name.
SPC WILHYT: SPC Wilhyt. I'm from the 374th Quartermaster Battalion, and we oversee operations of the 170th Group.
SSG KIRKLAND: Could you spell your first name and give us your middle initial and spell your last name?
SPC WILHYT: Stanley R. Wilhyt. W-I-L-H-Y-T is the last name.
SSG KIRKLAND: And Stanley: S-T-A-N-L-E-Y? Great.
MAJ HONEC: Social Security Number?
SPC WILHYT: ***-**-****.
MAJ HONEC: Thank you.
SSG KIRKLAND: And SSG Carpenter, I forgot to ask you your duty position. Could you tell us that for the record?
SSG CARPENTER: I am the Operations Sergeant for the 173d Quartermaster [Company], and the Chief Dispatcher.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, sergeant. How many trucks a day would you say roll in here?
SSG CARPENTER: On an average of 75 to 125 trucks a day.
SSG KIRKLAND: What are the work hours like around here?
SSG CARPENTER: Twelve on, twelve off. And if work loads get too heavy, it is 24 hours on and maybe you get time off.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you have enough people to handle ... ?
SSG CARPENTER: We do now. We're training more people. We're training more people in the [Military Occupational Specialty] 77F positions. We came over here at [Authorized Level of Organization] C ... level three. We were about 30 people short in our unit. And what we're doing is taking the LIMAS, terminal people, and training them--OJT-ing them right here as 77Fs.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. And a 77F is?
SSG CARPENTER: Is a petroleum specialist.
SSG KIRKLAND: And a LIMA? What are you ... a 71L?
SSG CARPENTER: A 71L is a ...
SPC WILHYT: A petroleum lab tech[nician] specialist.
SSG CARPENTER: A clerk.
SPC WILHYT: And the 77L is the actual lab tech who runs all the samples ... testing samples in the lab.
SSG CARPENTER: And the 74C, which we have a lot of terminal people, which are 74Cs now. We are training ... we've got three of those training with us on OJT.
SSG KIRKLAND: What about the security of the area?
SSG CARPENTER: Very good. We have ten teams of MPs [military policemen] at night and five in the daytime.
SSG KIRKLAND: I don't see any MPs around. Where do they hide out?
SSG CARPENTER: They are located ... they are hiding.
SPC WILHYT: You can see them if you look around.
SSG KIRKLAND: They are hiding?
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
SPC WILHYT: We finally got a berm set up around the whole TPT, which they are ...
SSG CARPENTER: They are outside of our berm, facing outward. Five teams in the daytime, ten teams at night.
SSG KIRKLAND: So what would you say the radius is that they protect?
SSG CARPENTER: Of this area, or just of the TPT itself?
SSG KIRKLAND: Just of the TPT itself.
SPC WILHYT: Five miles.
SSG CARPENTER: Yeah, I think its about a five-mile circle for the TPT.
MAJ HONEC: This is MAJ Honec. SSG Carpenter, did you have adequate engineer support when you were first setting up?
SSG CARPENTER: That is correct. Engineer support was excellent.
SSG KIRKLAND: SSG Carpenter, what type of support did the engineers give to you?
SSG CARPENTER: They made the berms for the bags [fuel bladders]. They also made the roads for our compound and the roads in and out of the TPT.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, we're in a box-type contraption here. What is this? Is this a carton for some equipment?
SSG CARPENTER: This is a box that a fire suppressant unit came in ... which we have 19 for our TPT. What we're doing is taking them and making office spaces out of them for our dispatchers.
SSG KIRKLAND: And how much longer do you expect to stay in this area, or can you say?
SPC WILHYT: I cannot say.
SSG KIRKLAND: SSG Carpenter, do you expect to move soon?
SSG CARPENTER: After the ground war starts, if the 101st and the 82d Airborne [Divisions] gets started, we will move anywhere between eight to ten days after the ground war starts and set up another TPT.
SSG KIRKLAND: And how many people would you say are in your entire unit here?
SSG CARPENTER: 95.
SSG KIRKLAND: And SSG Carpenter, how are the communications in this area?
SSG CARPENTER: Great. We have no problems whatsoever with communications.
SSG KIRKLAND: How do you communicate with the different people?
SSG CARPENTER: We have [AN]/PRC-77 radios. We also have field telephones. Now we've got ...
SSG CARPENTER: I don't know what this thing is. They just brought this down yesterday and we haven't even ... this is something new today that just came in.
SSG KIRKLAND: And where is the headquarters? Is this it right here?
SSG CARPENTER: The headquarters is about a mile up the hill here, on top of this tall hill. Our battalion is located up there: 387th Quartermaster out of Illinois.
SSG KIRKLAND: And is this an active duty unit?
SPC WILHYT: No. Army Reserve unit.
SSG KIRKLAND: Army Reserve unit out of Danville.
SSG KIRKLAND: SSG Carpenter, did you have any MTOE [Modified Table of Organization and Equipment] changes?
SSG CARPENTER: Before we were mobilized?
SSG KIRKLAND: Before you were mobilized, yes.
SSG CARPENTER: Yes.
SSG KIRKLAND: And could you expand on this?
SSG CARPENTER: Okay. We were going to go on a new MTOE change in September. We changed all the new MTOE. Two weeks later we were changed back to our old MTOE and then mobilized October 11.
SSG KIRKLAND: So do you feel that you are short-handed right now?
SSG CARPENTER: That is correct, because the new MTOE reflects the personnel needed to operate this particular system.
SSG KIRKLAND: And what particular system are we talking about?
SSG CARPENTER: The SWAPDOP system.
SSG KIRKLAND: SWAPDOP? Could you expand a little bit about that type of system?
SSG CARPENTER: It's a system developed by Will Brothers/Butler which consists of 210,000-gallon collapsible bags, a host of pumps, fire suppressant units, hoses, manifold systems, and it's designed primarily for the Southwest Asia theater. It's what we have been trained on for the last four years in summer camp.
SSG KIRKLAND: Could you tell me what SWAPDOP stands for?
SSG CARPENTER: Southwest Asia Petroleum Distribution System.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. And these collapsible bags, what are these used for? Do you have those here?
SSG CARPENTER: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: They're used for ... ?
SSG CARPENTER: Storing product--or fuel.
SSG KIRKLAND: Fuel. Okay. Do you have any equipment shortages?
SSG CARPENTER: None. All of the equipment was new ... brand new when we got here.
SSG KIRKLAND: And what types of equipment do you have?
SSG CARPENTER: 600-GPM [gallon-per-minute] pumps; an assortment of suction and discharge hoses; manifold systems; filter separators; light sets; fire suppression units; 210,000-gallon collapsible bags; all the tools necessary to put it together with. And that's it.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great.
SSG CARPENTER: The rest of the stuff we brought with us, like our vehicles and commo.
SSG KIRKLAND: Is there any problems with the equipment in the desert conditions?
SSG CARPENTER: Yeah, we've had some. We've had several ... a lot of breakdowns with our vehicles. Right now we have seven 5-ton tractors, and only two of them are running now. So the desert does take its toll on the equipment.
SSG KIRKLAND: Are you getting replacement vehicles?
SSG CARPENTER: And no replacement parts.
SSG KIRKLAND: So where are you putting these vehicles that aren't working any more?
SSG CARPENTER: Set them over to the side and then maybe cannibalizing the other vehicles to get them back going again.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay.
MAJ HONEC: This is MAJ Honec. What was the primary cause of the breakdowns that deadlined the vehicles?
SSG CARPENTER: Most of it was engine trouble, engine failure. We had two that blew engines on the way up here. I think a couple others are drive shafts, fuel pumps, stuff like that.
MAJ HONEC: What about ... when they blew the engines, is that attributed to the desert heat, or is it ... ?
SSG CARPENTER: I think it is attributed a lot to the dust and ... right, the heat, the dust.
MAJ HONEC: How old is your equipment ... obviously the transportation assets? Are they old trucks or new trucks?
SSG CARPENTER: This unit went to Vietnam in 1968, and when they came back in November of 1969, I think we got ... everything is used, what you would classify as used: the 5-tons, the deuce-and-a-halfs [2.5-ton trucks]. And that is what we've had ever since 1961, except for maybe five 50s, which is like Blazers.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. SSG Carpenter, I just have one last question for you. How is the morale of the troops?
SSG CARPENTER: If Saddam [Hussein] would pull out of Kuwait, I think it would boost morale considerably, but if not, they are ready to go on and get it over with.
SSG KIRKLAND: And your civilian occupation?
SSG CARPENTER: I am a vocational instructor for the Quitman County High School.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Teaching 11th and 12th grade?
SSG CARPENTER: Right, 11th and 12th grade.
SSG KIRKLAND: MAJ Honec, do you have any further questions?
MAJ HONEC: Yes, just one more. This particular unit is Mississippi what? National Guard or Army Reserve?
SSG CARPENTER: Army Reserve.
MAJ HONEC: Army Reserve; Mississippi. Good.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, and SGT McNeil, do you have any questions?
SGT McNEIL: I have one question. Since it's so ... it's important that different units get petroleum for use in the helicopters, aircraft, other vehicles, and everything, why is it that you are having difficulty getting parts to repair these trucks that you have deadlined?
SSG CARPENTER: I have no idea what the problem is as far as spare parts. It is not only our unit, but the other surrounding units are having the same trouble. Now ... what they're trying to do now is pull all the units together and find out who has got what parts, and maybe do some exchanging. I think that was brought up about a week or two ago, that they were going to start doing that, which should help to rectify a lot of the vehicle problems.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, SSG Carpenter. SGT McNeil, did you have any further questions?
SGT McNEIL: No.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. SSG Carpenter, is there anything that you would like to add that we didn't cover on this interview tape?
SSG CARPENTER: That just about covers everything as far as our mission here.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. This concludes the interview between members of military history detachments and SSG Carpenter.
[END OF INTERVIEW]