PACAF civilian looks back on over 60 years of bringing fuel to the fight

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steve Lewis
  • HQ PACAF Public Affairs
Mr. Stanley Zaucha, Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants facilities manager here, has more than 60 years of military and civil service with the U.S. Air Force. In the line of duty he has traveled to military installations all over the world, providing thousands of gallons of fuel to aircraft and working around the clock to complete the mission.

In February 2011, he'll be closing the chapter on his fuels experience which has spanned six different military campaigns including the Korean War and Operation Enduring Freedom. Mr. Zaucha, who previously retired at the rank of chief master sergeant, has dedicated himself not only to the Air Force, but also to the fuels profession by shaping its infrastructure to meet the ever-changing demands of today's state-of-the-art weapons systems.

Since 1994, Mr. Zaucha has been assigned to the Headquarters Pacific Air Forces POL staff. For the past 17 years he has been responsible for managing fuels facility and process improvements at bases throughout the command. He has overseen more than 40 military construction projects valued in excess of $500 million, including the installation of numerous pipelines and hydrant systems that pump fuel to aircraft.

He's received many awards and accolades through the years, but most notably was recognized as the 1997 Air Force Fuels Civilian of the Year and the 2002 PACAF Fuels Civilian of the Year for the projects he implemented while being assigned at PACAF.

"I always feel a great sense of pride each time I visit a base and see the shiny stainless steel pipes of new hydrant systems bringing fuel to the aircraft," Mr. Zaucha said.

With his retirement date coming up in February, the 79-year old Pennsylvania native will be retiring from civil service and leaving behind his fuels experience that started in Washington, D.C., when he first joined the service.

It was 1950 when 19-year-old, Stanley Zaucha, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Having worked at gas service stations as a teen, Mr. Zaucha said he felt the fuels specialty was something he was best suited for when asked to select a primary duty.

"I had a little bit of fuels experience in my earlier years that influenced me. So when I was at my first assignment at Moses Lake Air Force Base, Wa., they asked me what job I wanted to do in supply. I said I would take fuels and have been in that career field ever since then," Mr. Zaucha said.

His unit, the 81st Fighter Interceptor Wing, was sent to Europe soon after to take on logistics and other fuels-related duties. While serving in Ipswich, England, he helped to set up base operations and receive vehicles and equipment entering the base by rail. He was also responsible for the installation of underground storage tanks each capable of holding more than 50,000 gallons of fuel that serviced the new F-86 Sabre.

Following his tour in Europe, the then Sergeant Zaucha was sent to Taiwan in 1964 where he was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group, or MAAG, and provided the Republic of China with fuels training. Mr. Zaucha was also involved in helping them develop new fuels programs and processes. He said he was the only Air Force non-commissioned officer working on the MAAG in Taiwan.

"My programs went so well that the Chinese Air Force asked the U.S. Air Force to extend my time in Taiwan. Not complaining, I ended up doing a five-year tour and was the only MAAG advisor to complete all of their programs," Mr. Zaucha said.

Following his time in Taiwan, Mr. Zaucha then served a tour in Vietnam. After narrowly escaping serious injuries from a bomb blast there, he was sent to Japan and assigned as a fuels superintendent for the 5th Air Force. It was during this assignment that he was promoted to chief master sergeant.

"Even though there was a promotion freeze going on then, it still felt so good to be honored with the new rank of Chief," Mr. Zaucha said.

To this day, Mr. Zaucha still remains humbled that the Air Force thought highly enough of him to be promoted to chief master sergeant.

"I always felt like everyone worked just as hard as me and I was honored that so many people thought I was that qualified in doing my job," Mr. Zaucha said. "We all did whatever we had to do to get the job done."

After completing 31 years of active duty service in the Air Force (12 of those years as a Chief), Mr. Zaucha retired in 1981. However, this would not be the end of his service to the U.S. Air Force. The same month he retired from active-duty, Mr. Zaucha was sworn into civil service. His first position would be a quality assurance specialist, inspecting fuel refinery facilities and quality control practices all over the world.

In 1994, Mr. Zaucha accepted his current position as the PACAF fuels facilities manager here. While overseeing fuels infrastructure upgrades at bases throughout PACAF, he was inducted into the elite "Order of the Single Point Receptacle" in 2003. The award is given by the National Petroleum Management Association to individuals whose "dedication and innovative leadership have brought about major improvements in aviation fuel safety and efficiency around the world."

As Mr. Zaucha now completes his last few months as a civil servant with PACAF, he looks back on all of the places his career has taken him and the experiences he had.

"I don't remember ever saying no to anything that was asked of me in the line of duty and that served me well all these years," he said. "It's important that our young Airmen can learn from experiences like mine and continue to improve our Air Force and fuels community."

Master Sgt. Joel Brown, a HQ PACAF fuels, warplans and requirements manager, has been working with Mr. Zaucha since 2008. Sergeant Brown has been soaking up Mr. Zaucha's 60 years of fuels knowledge over the past three years.

"Coming in early and staying late, his 'never say no' attitude and his dedication to duty are the sorts of things I take away from the Chief and it is these traits I hope to pass along to my Airmen," Sergeant Brown said.

Although Mr. Zaucha will be retiring in February, his co-workers said they still plan to keep his email address and cell phone handy. As for Mr. Zaucha, he said he plans to continue traveling and see new places with his wife Ann. The only difference now, he can finally travel on his own timeline.

Editors note: the PACAF fuels staff contribuited to this story.