HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

POL Airmen keep tankers flying

Airman 1st Class Nathan Hopkins trains Airman Britney Hogue how to defuel a KC-135 Stratotanker using an R-12 fuel truck. POL Airmen are responsible for providing optimal refueling support on and off the flight line. Both Hopkins and Hogue are 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

Airman 1st Class Nathan Hopkins trains Airman Britney Hogue how to defuel a KC-135 Stratotanker using an R-12 fuel truck. POL Airmen are responsible for providing optimal refueling support on and off the flight line. Both Hopkins and Hogue are 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Fairchild is renowned for its aerial refueling capabilities for the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 Stratotanker has been called a “flying fuel depot,” but what many overlook is the Airmen who supply the gas it needs to accomplish its global reach mission.

Airmen from the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight, also known as POL (pertroleum, oil and lubricants), enable tankers to fulfill its role in the mission.

Whenever KC-135s and UH-1N Hueys take off from Fairchild, it’s a guarantee that POL Airmen were involved.

“Our mission is to provide optimal refueling support on and off the flight line,” said Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Silva Jr., 92nd LRS fuels distribution NCO in charge. “In order to provide precise air refueling, it starts with us getting the fuel on board the aircraft and helicopters first.”

The safety of the fuels for the aircraft that fly in and out of Fairchild on a day-to-day basis is very important. The most rewarding thing about the job is knowing that we support the mission overseas by allowing fighters extended reach to accomplish the mission, said Senior Airman Michael Peek, 92nd LRS fuels laboratory technician.

POL delivers an average of 13 million gallons of petroleum products annually in support of rapid global mobility. Airmen work seemlessly with ground crews to keep aircraft gassed up and ready to perform missions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We’re responsible for delivering dry and clean (free of water) fuel to the aircraft and we conduct daily inspections on all of our equipment and facilities to ensure they are operating as intended, Silva added.

“The POL scope in the mission is very diverse here at Fairchild. We also handle the base’s deicing fluid, a critical component for mission readiness during the winter months,” Silva said. “It’s rewarding and humbling to know we help and support a lot of squadrons on base.”

POL also supports the 336th Training Group aerial missions by providing the UH-1Ns and ground vehicles different types of fuel to conduct the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school training.

“We have a great opportunity to routinely send our Airmen to an off-site training location with SERE,” Silva said. “Our fuels personnel support three fuels systems for SERE: the Jet-A fuel system to refuel 36th Rescue Squadron’s UH-1Ns along with two service stations that provide ground fuel for the operating ground vehicles.”

POL Airmen constantly train and familiarize themselves in Air Force Instructions, technical orders and other environmental regulations in order to remain sharp and vigilant.

I work with a great team of many talented Airmen who are always trying to improve themselves and their operations within the flight, Silva said.