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POL Airmen keep Barksdale moving

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Gonsier 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Just as people need food and water to function, aircraft and vehicles need fuel to perform their mission.

Airmen from the 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight are responsible for the petroleum, oil and lubricant needed to get aircraft off the ground and vehicles on the road.

"Our mission statement is to enable flexible and responsive fuel and cryogenic support, and provide unmatched combat ready Airmen for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations," said Senior Master Sgt. David Laun, 2 LRS Fuels Management Flight superintendent. "It's a behind-the-scenes job that nobody really thinks about, but misses when it's not there."

There are 98 Airmen assigned to the fuels management flight, but with deployments and leave, the flight has on average of 65 to 70 Airmen who regularly maintain quality fuel support for B-52H Stratofortress bombers, A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters and all transient aircraft and vehicles, Laun said. On average, fuels Airmen issue close to four million gallons of fuel each month in support of the mission.

In order to support this fundamental mission, the fuels management flight is split into different sections. Fuels Airmen may drive fuel trucks, store and issue the bulk fuel in the tanks, provide laboratory support or work the fuels service center.

"When an aircraft needs fuel, the maintenance operations center contacts us," said Staff Sgt. Derek Adams, 2 LRS fuels service center controller.

Adams said controllers need to know specific information before sending a fuel truck to a refueling operation. This includes the tail number and location of the aircraft, and the grade of fuel needed. If an aircraft requires defueling, more information is needed.

"We need to know why they are defueling and if there is any suspected contamination or off specification material that would require this procedure," Adams said. "That way, we don't put it back into the good fuel and issue it back out."

There is never a dull day in the fuels sections according to Adams. No one ever has the chance to be lazy; there is always something to do, even on slower days there is a lot of training being conducted.

"It can get pretty busy here, sometimes people are out all day doing fuel operations," Adams said. "If there is a lot of flying going on, then we are doing a lot. Our Airmen can see around 15 to 20 aircraft during the busiest shift during the day."

Adams said ensuring the mission is accomplished properly with so much going on each day requires a lot of teamwork.

"It is important we have a good working relationship and open lines of communication with each other," Adams said. "We aren't getting fuel out to the aircraft without our storage or distribution Airmen."

However, the mission goes beyond distribution and storage; there are also fuels Airmen making sure all aircraft receive the best product.

"There is a laboratory that samples all of the fuel," Laun said. "Fuel quality is paramount to us and to the Air Force. We receive the fuel and sample it prior to it going in our tanks, as it is transferred from tank to tank, and as it goes into our planes and vehicles."

Fuels Airmen take pride in ensuring all the units on base receive top-notch fuel support, Laun added. They are self sufficient by having their own maintenance shop to ensure vehicles are in proper working condition.

"We have the ability, when called upon, to refuel the entire fleet of B-52 bombers on this installation if enemy deterrence is required," Laun said.

In order for the B-52 to maintain continuous combat capabilities, fuels Airmen ensure clean, dry fuel is readily available.

"If we are not doing our part, then the mission is not going to happen," Adams said.