'Pipeman Pete' finds new home as historic fuel supply point closes
USAG DAEGU, South Korea -- Defense Logistics Agency Energy Korea and United States Forces Korea turned over the Waegwan Defense Fuel Supply Point (DFSP) to the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense as part of a bilateral agreement originally signed in 2004, 18 Dec.
The DLA Energy Korea team began the drawdown of Waegwan DFSP in June 2016, reallocating over 5,515,976 gallons of U.S. fuel to other DFSPs in Korea to meet the deadline for December 2017. Mr. Marc LaMontagne, Logistics Division Chief, led the transportation and inventory teams responsible for drawdown efforts. He remarked "Our whole team feels proud to have played a role in this monumental event."
"It felt like we were closing a permanent exhibit in a museum," said Lt. Col. Faith M. Chamberlain, DLA Energy Korea.
The history of the Waegwan DFSP dates back to the U.S. construction of the Trans Korean Pipeline (TKP) in 1970, connecting 10 fuel terminals across South Korea. This investment in fixed infrastructure enabled the U.S. to store and distribute fuel from the port at Pohang to as far north as Uijeongbu DFSP.
This integrated fuel network was operated by 8th Army's 2nd Quartermaster Group, headquartered at Camp Henry, Daegu. The 2nd QM Gp was a one-stop shop for all things fuel related. These uniformed Soldiers and Korean Nationals operated fuel testing labs, scheduled the redistribution of fuel, transported fuel, maintained all fuel infrastructure, and even dove the East Sea during fuel discharges at Pohang DFSP to connect flex hose from the pier to the ocean tanker manifold.
In many cases, these Army fuel experts have remained in the profession and have many stories to tell of their multiple assignments to Korea with the 2nd QM Gp and DLA Energy. One such example is Mr. Ron Coleman who was first assigned to Pyeongtaek Petroleum Laboratory with the 2nd QM Gp in 1976. Today, 42 years later, Mr. Coleman works in Daegu, South Korea for the DLA as a Supervisor of the Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) section. In this capacity, he led the QAR testing of fuel throughout the Waegwan DFSP closure. Mr. Coleman stated, "It is deeply gratifying to have supported the U.S. and ROK Alliance in uniform and as a DoD civilian."
As the Korean fuel refining and transportation industry has developed into a world renowned commercial sector, the U.S. no longer requires Army Soldiers to perform many of the fuel tasks previously performed by the 2nd QM Gp. Today, the U.S. can procure fuel from Korean refineries, leverage Korean pipeline and transport commercial partners to distribute fuel throughout the peninsula. Mr. Coleman went on to say, "For the most part, I do the same thing today that I did in 1976, but now I spend the majority of my time working with our Korean industry partners, as opposed to Soldiers."
Of the 10 original fuel terminals that dotted South Korea dating back to the 1970s, only five remain in operation as ROK or U.S.-owned military terminals. One of the first terminals to close was Gangnam DFSP located in the vicinity of the now famous Seoul suburb. In the last five years, the DLA Energy Korea office has closed two terminals, Uijeongbu DFSP in 2013 and most recently, Waegwan DFSP. "Because closing a DFSPs overseas does not occur frequently, there is always a great deal of learning that occurs throughout the process," stated Mr. Rob Barta, lead for project integration across DLA Energy Korea, who was glad that the project had been successfully completed on time.
At each of the original fuel terminals, the 2nd QM Gp had built statues from readily-available pipeline materials to promote esprit de corps in the Korea fuels community. These monuments look somewhat alike and are commonly known in the fuels community as 'Pipeman Pete'. To honor the strong, decades-old US and ROK fuels alliance, DLA Energy Korea partnered with ROK MND, the 2ID Sustainment Brigade and the 25th Transportation Battalion to extract the monument from Waegwan DFS to move it to Camp Humphreys. When the new Camp Humphreys DFSP is commissioned later in 2018, "Pipeman Pete" will be situated in his new home -- honoring the closure of one chapter of the US and ROK coalition history and celebrating the opening of a new one.