BY TIA NICHOLE MCMILLEN
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER SIGONELLA
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U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force fuelers sit on the tarmac at Naval Air Station Sigonella
11:58 p.m. It’s pitch black on the tarmac. Lt. Cmdr. Erika “Mo” Schoenthal raises her binoculars to the sky. A soft mechanical hum infiltrates the Naval Air Station Sigonella airfield.
From below the aircraft, onlookers watch the plane’s flaps extend outward until the spoilers are ready to bring her safely to the ground. With a pronounced thud, she lands and gently glides along the runway.
The President of the United States of America is here.
For NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Sigonella Director Lt. Cmdr. Schoenthal, providing logistics support for the president and other foreign dignitaries is another (albeit exciting) day in the office.
NAVSUP FLC Sigonella played a major support role providing fuels, customs support, hazardous material support, and transportation during the dignitaries visit in support of the G7 Summit held in Taormina, Sicily.
Specifically, the team started its preplanning phase last December, when the White House pre-advanced team visited Sigonella to capture capabilities and conduct a site survey for the upcoming visit.
Prior to the summit, NAVSUP FLC Sigonella’s fuels division refueled 21 aircraft charged with moving gear and equipment in support of the summit.
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Air Force One and Two sit on the tarmac at Naval Air Station Sigonella as President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the G7 Summit in Taormina, –photos by Lt. Cmdr. Erika “Mo” Schoenthal
“The G7 Summit was an awesome experience and being able to support such a great cause was an honor. The fuels division’s motivation and teamwork shined clean, clear, and bright, just like the fuel we gave them,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class Rita Doakes.
During the summit, the team refueled 18 aircraft, including fuel support and coordination to Air Force One and Two, as well as aircraft from partner nations Japan and France, and U.S. Air Force and Italian Air Force helicopters, totaling 26,000 U.S. gallons of fuel.
The team provided 37,000 gallons of fuel to Italian Air Force fuel trucks for their refueling efforts, and coordinated customs support for armed Secret Service agents and the press plane at the Catania Airport, to include weapons clearance and a liaising service for Italian customs support to Sigonella.
After the presidential town hall featuring U.S. and Italian armed forces, NAVSUP FLC Sigonella’s work was not finished. The team defueled 13,000 U.S. gallons of fuel from nine helicopters and assisted Air Force One fueling teams in draining Air Force fuel trucks in preparation for shipment. During this time, the team also refueled six C-17s with more than 100,000 U.S. gallons of fuel.
“I think this is one of the most challenging logistics support activities I’ve ever led. With so many partners and so many key players, it was imperative that we all understood both what we owned and how we needed to support one another,” said Lt. Cmdr. Schoenthal. “Our job as supply officers is to make sure our warfighters get what they need when they need it. In this case, it was ensuring the commander in chief arrived safely and was able to meet his mission.”