OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants Flight performed a ceremony here April for the 30th anniversary of the 1986 fuel tank explosion.
On April 5, 1986, a 40,000-gallon fuel tank burst into flames during routine refueling, which resulted in the death of an Osan Airman and 15 Korean nationals.
“I believe we gather here every year because it makes us feel closer to these men,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Foster, 51st LRS commander. “It allows us the opportunity to focus on what we do, how dangerous it is, and recognize the individuals who lost their lives that day.”
Airmen from the fuels flight gathered in formation, with each Airman signifying one of the lives lost during the incident 30 years ago.
“I resembled Choi, Mal Sun, one of the Korean contractors laying sod that day,” said Senior Airman Aaron Nevarez, 51st LRS fuels fixed facility technician. “He was just out there doing his job.
“I didn’t hear of this until I came to Osan, but knowing what I know now brings me closer to my POL brethren, past and present,” he added.
To prevent further instances like this, the Air Force revamped the regulations on POL duties.
“What happened that day set forth changes and regulations that we follow daily,” said Master Sgt. Donald Scott, 51st LRS Fuels Operations section chief. “That’s why we are not on the fuel tanks while receiving fuel to ensure our Airmen are safe.”
As the ceremony concluded at 1:12 p.m., the estimated time the explosion occurred, everyone in attendance had a moment of silence to honor the fallen individuals.