A classmate of mine in the Navy Reserve was put in charge of a new concept Navy fuel unit that was to assist in fueling requirements during a war or national emergency. Members of the unit were all of different Navy rates, with little or no fuel experience, and had to learn all about fuel and how to fuel planes, ships, trucks, tanks etc. After the unit was trained the Navy decided to have a realistic war-like exercise at a Naval Air Station. During a twenty-four-hour period, the squadron would fly as many missions as possible. The sorties would be simulated by a computer and the planes would take off, complete the sortie and returned to base to be refueled, then immediately fly the next computer simulated sortie. The unit was divided into fuel teams for the exercise. The units would take turns fueling aircraft as then returned from their sortie, then the planes would take off immediately for the next simulated sortie. The planes were hot-fueled (and armed) and did not turn off their engines.
My classmate could have just stayed in the command shack and watched the exercise but he had a different idea. He insisted that he inspect each team just before they went out to fuel the aircraft. After about 14 hours some men were visibly tired. When he inspected each team, he would “disqualify” one member for some reason, usually something innocuous like sloppy uniform, and take their place on the tarmac, directly helping fuel the aircraft and giving the sailor time to rest. The men knew the disqualifying reason was bogus and he was just giving them a break.
After the exercise was over, my classmate had even stronger teamwork in the unit and each man knew that he clearly understood their work, mission and danger.
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