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Fueling aircraft, fueling Combat Airlift

  • Published
  • By Airman Rhett Isbell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Liquid rushes from one metal frame to another as fumes hit the air and Airman 1st Class Andres Torres, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, breathes in the scent he knows so well.

Petroleum, Oils and Lubricant Airmen stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., primarily refuel C-130Js, but also service all transient aircraft coming through the base.

“Our mission is supplying all of the fuel needed for vehicles on base,” said Staff Sgt. Diamond Heffington, 19th LRS fuels distribution supervisor. “We fuel up every plane that comes through here and every government vehicle on base; that includes the firetrucks, police vehicles and K-loaders too.”

The POL Airmen accomplish this mission every day, but have to go through a number of steps to get to the aircraft in need of such a vital resource.

“After we receive our morning briefing, we go out and do ‘Checkpoint’,” Torres said. “This involves a 62 step check of our fuel trucks for anything that’s hazardous or not working properly. We also test the fuel for impurities.”

Once they’ve performed these checks, POL Airmen prepare to receive the call that sends them out to fulfill the most mission essential part of their job: fueling aircraft.

“If you do it right you’re only spending about 10 minutes pumping around 1,200 gallons into an aircraft,” Heffington said. “That way you can keep moving and supplying other aircraft with all of the fuel they need.”

After POL team members fuel an aircraft they go out and re-fuel their trucks so they can do it over again.  Running all around the flight line to fuel up aircraft and their own trucks, POL Airmen rely on each other heavily to accomplish their mission.

“Everyone’s really close here and I like that part of our shop,” Torres said. “When you need help, they’ll be there for you.”

Enduring daily strain from a 24/7 mission, it’s no mystery how the POL team become so close. This continuous effort to support the Little Rock Air Force Base mission left Heffington with a clear understanding of the POL flight’s part to play.

“At the end of the day we’re just trying to keep the base moving by providing the fuel necessary to accomplish that goal, so that security forces can go patrol, firefighters can get to the fires and planes can get in the air,” Heffington said. “Aircraft can be maintained all day long, but without fuel they’re going nowhere.”