POL flight Airmen fuel 'Sound of Freedom'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Whether they're out on the flightline refueling aircraft or testing the fuel for irregularities, the 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Management flight, simply known as POL, corners the market when it comes to fuel.

More than 75 Airmen and civilians work 10- to 12-hour shifts 24/7, 365 days a year. The career field is broken down into two sections and seven elements, each playing a vital role in fuel-related operations.

The first section, Operations, contains the fuels distribution, maintenance, fixed facilities and cryogenics elements. The second section, the Fuels Information Service Center, contains the fuels laboratory, training and support, and the fuel service center elements.

The fuels distribution element has more than 45 vehicles available to transport fuel. There are two trucks used by the fuels distribution element - the R-11, which can hold 6,000 gallons of fuel, and the R-12, a truck capable of connecting to fueling hydrant outlets on the flightline. These hydrants are linked to the Fixed Facilities element which issues the fuel from hydrant storage tanks to the flightline. The element provide four types of fuel - two jet fuels and two ground fuels, unleaded and diesel.

"We oversee the largest fuel storage facility in the Air Force with 66 million gallons of storage capability to support our two runways," said Master Sgt. David Laun, 36th LRS fuels flight operations section chief. "[We support] any aircraft that land here and require fuel to leave [including] the Theater Security Package, Continuous Bomber Presence, Tanker Task Force, all [Air Mobility Command flights] en route, [Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Five] search and rescue, all exercises, [distinguished visitors], you name it. If it's a plane and it lands on our runway, it's getting gas."

Members of the fuels distribution element perform a comprehensive 86 point daily preventative maintenance check on each truck to ensure there are no major mechanical or safety issues.

According to Master Sgt. Danny Turner, 36th LRS cryogenics section chief, the flight doesn't have a traditional maintenance element. If technical mechanical problems arise with the refueling trucks, 36 LRS GS-21 contractors are there to solve them.

The fuels laboratory samples all incoming fuel and components used to filter fuel.

The lab checks each fuel sample, looking for water, particulate matter, icing inhibitors, color and static dissipater additive, said Tech. Sgt. Dan Rabideau, 36th LRS POL flight noncommissioned officer in charge of the fuels laboratory. When the fuel comes in, it's sampled many times before it even reaches the skin of an aircraft.

The POL flight receives fuel from Defense Fuel Supply Point Guam via pipeline linking the two installations. The fuel runs from the pipeline to storage tanks where it is held until its transfer to fixed facility operational hydrant storage tanks.

Members of the fuel service center element support the fueling mission by providing command and control for the entire flight.

The FSC knows the location of every refueling truck on the installation, Sergeant Laun said. They also keep 100-percent accountability of all fuel and cryogenics issues. They work very closely with the maintenance operations center to schedule the rapid and safe delivery of jet fuel to weapon systems on the airfield.

The cryogenics element provides a unique support asset to the fuels flight, operating one of two cryogenics production plants in Air Force inventory.

"We are capable of producing liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen [that] is used on [all] aircraft," Sergeant Turner said. "[The liquid oxygen] can be used for [pilots] and the nitrogen can be used for the aircraft systems."

Technical training for POL Airmen consists of a six-week course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Certain elements, such as cryogenics and the fuels laboratory, require additional training.

Despite working 10- to 12-hours day in a job with a very high ops tempo, members of the Fuels flight receive much gratification for their hard work and dedication.

"I love my job!" said Airman Rita Foore, 36th LRS POL flight fuels operator. "At first, it was stressful learning the ins and outs or everything, but that comes with any job. I love the physical element of it and love that I learn something new every day. Plus, it's really cool to be on the flightline."