FORT PICKETT Va. -- Lance Cpl. Nicholas Verdisco pumps gas, but not at your local gas-station.
The Deltona, Fla., native is a bulk fuel specialist with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM-261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. His job in the Marine Corps centers on ensuring military vehicles and aircraft have the fuel they need to keep moving. With VMM-261 that means directing various Marine Corps aircraft with hand and arm signals onto a Forward Aerial Refueling Point where he then uses a Helicopter Expedient Refueling System to keep their engines running. “I love the thrill of guiding in birds, being close to them, and having them in your hands,” he said. “That’s probably my favorite part of this job.” Verdisco, who has served in the Marine Corps for just over a year, said his decision to join the Marines stems from a combination of his grandfather’s prior service, his father’s advice, and timing. “My Grandfather was a Marine and I always asked my dad about joining the military,” he said. “He always told me ‘Marines, Marines, Marines.’” Verdisco said his friend’s brother began talking to a recruiter and asked him to go too. “All of my friends knew I wanted to join eventually,” he said. Following the summer of his senior year at Pondridge High School, he left for recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. “Everything just fell into place,” he said. Now, Verdisco fuels aircraft during the 24th MEU’s Realistic Urban Training (RUT) exercise, scheduled Jan. 5-20. The exercise serves to prepare and certify the Marines and Sailors of the 24th MEU for the various operations they may conduct during their upcoming deployment, which will be Verdisco’s first. “I’m not jumping out of airplanes, nobody’s looking at me up in the sky, but in the background without fuel nothing is going to move,” he said. “… Without fuel pilots are pedestrians.”