JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – –
From refueling jets and firetrucks to testing fuel samples and maintaining liquid oxygen, the 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight does it all at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
The fuels management flight, also known as POL for petroleum, oils and lubricants, provides fuel support to the Air Combat Command, Fort Eustis’ Training Doctrine, six battalions, five wings and 30 organizations across JBLE. About 70 POL Airmen supply more than 9.5 million gallons of fuel approximately 60 aircraft, all government operated vehicles, generators and GOV refueling stations around base.
“We are a family here at POL and we ensure that we treat the base like that too,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kevin Mendelsohn, 733rd LRS fuels management flight commander. “We give outstanding support and make sure the service we provide and the fuel they receive is of extremely high standards.”
To ensure the highest quality possible, the lab specialist repeatedly test samples from the fuel tanks for contaminants with a variety of high-tech equipment, such as flash point testers, density meters and oxidation stability analyzers. If the sample is free of contaminants, the fuel is pumped into refueling trucks and sent to fuel equipment around base. If the sample is contaminated, it is stored separately and discarded according to environmental regulations.
“The fuels lab does daily testing on samples from the refuelers, R-11 trucks, with a variety of data equipment that we have, as well as sampling the barge that comes in,” said Mendelsohn. “There is an extreme amount of care taken to ensure that we are delivering high quality fuel to the aircraft and vehicles and making sure our Air Force family is safe.”
For the safety of the base personnel, the fuels flight divided their unit into six sections that work simultaneously to ensure accountability and quality control for effective and efficient mission success. These sections include refueling maintenance, training and support, distribution, laboratory, control center and materials section.
The Airmen within those sections must constantly maintain their equipment to ensure it is operating properly guaranteeing, not only are they mission ready, but the units across JBLE are as well.
“As a customer support agency, we make sure we have the resources and the personnel to provide whatever the base needs and whenever it needs it,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ken Manyen, 733rd LRS fuels operations section chief. “People don’t realize the number of things we do.”
One of the many ways POL personnel supports the base is by refueling the emergency vehicles daily, to guarantee the fire department and medical services are constantly available for any emergency.
Along with supporting vehicles and aircraft, the flight also sustains the Aviator Breathing Oxygen for the T-38 Talon pilots and manages one of only four fuel barge piers in the Air Force. POL is also responsible for four storage tanks capable of storing over two million gallons of fuel, as well as two hydrant tanks which can store over 800,000 gallons of fuel.
The fuels flight support different organizations beyond JBLE such as providing personnel and vehicles for the president, analyzing fuel for NASA’s research centers or giving equipment tours for joint training operations with U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps members.
“LRS is one of those entities that makes things that you wouldn’t even think about happen,” said Mendelsohn. “When it comes to background support, fuels are key in making the mission happen, whether day or night, we are able to accomplish our mission at JBLE.”
As a mission essential service, the fuels flight is a key factor of the base’s disaster ride-out-team, supporting emergency services and ensuring the base can recover immediately after a disaster. Along with disasters, POL is first to the fight when it comes to inclement weather affecting JBLE.
“If the base loses powers, we fuel the generators and ensure emergency services are up and running,” said Manyen. “If you do anything on the base that uses energy or fuel, we have a part in it.”
Manyen and Mendelsohn agreed that the personnel within the fuels flight have a mission-focused mentality and are constantly ensuring the priorities of their mission partners are met day and night, regardless of weather or demands of the flying schedule.
“Fuel runs the majority of the things that we have at JBLE,” said Mendelsohn. “The first responders wouldn’t be able to get out there and respond to emergencies. Aircraft wouldn’t get in the air. We are part of the heart and soul of the mission here. We fuel the mission.”