Marines Call Luke Air Force Base ... Home
A tan, quiet building sits on a street near the northwestern edge of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Lost in the background of F-35’s and F-16’s, it can be easily overlooked, however, this particular structure houses a group with a very unique mission.
Home to the Marine Corps’ 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Bulk Fuel Company Charlie, who’s headquartered in New Orleans, this unit is made up of a mix of 22 active-duty, active-reserve and Marine Corps Reserve and have operations that remain independent from the on-going Luke operations.
The facility previously resided in downtown Phoenix but relocated to Luke in January 2010 due to anti-terrorism and force protection requirements.
“We don’t have any operational or administrative commitments to Luke,” said U.S. Marines 1st Sgt. Eddie Williams, 6th Engineer Support Battalion Bulk Fuel Company Charlie Site Support Phoenix inspector instructor. “We just have a building, basically. All of our operations are conducted outside of the base.”
The 6 ESB’s primary responsibility is to train reservists in the bulk fuel community and provide fuel for ground transportation in the Marine forces, said Williams.
More than 350 reservists come to Luke one weekend a month to perform annual Military Occupational Specialty training.
The reservists conduct annual rifle and pistol range qualification for three to five days in an area close to Flagstaff, Ariz. They also practice land navigation, battle skills testing and bulk fuel training to enhance the battalion’s marksmanship proficiency and meet annual training requirements.
The battalion participates in color guard, funeral honors and dignified transfers and, according to Williams, they have events throughout the year when the community asks for Marine Corps support.
The most recent dignified transfer performed by Marines from 6 ESB was May 17, 2019 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for an Avondale, Ariz., native, Lance Cpl. Justin A. Hinds, an administrative specialist with Alpha Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East.
With such a small number of Marines stationed at Luke, there is a bond between these military members that reflects a family.
“If one of our comrades has fallen, we do everything to make sure the family can have closure,” said Master Sgt. Ralph Wright, Site Support Phoenix operations chief. “It’s just what we do. It doesn’t matter if we knew the Marine personally. It’s a title we earn. We know what everyone went through to deserve it.”