Thursday, July 17, 2014

TOP STORY>>High-octane recognition

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Fuels Management Flight has been recognized for their high-octane performance by being named the Air Force’s best.

The award, the 2013 American Petroleum Institute Award, evaluated the team’s accomplishments on and off duty, including innovative management and also how the flight supported quality of life programs within the flight, squadron, wing and local community.

Every fuels management flight in the Air Force is eligible to compete for the award. The flight even participated in a question and answer session with judges via a video teleconference.

“Through hard work, dedication, and innovation, the fuels management flight was able to show the judging panel we are the best,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Green, 19th LRS fuels management flight fuels manager.

The 19th LRS fuels management flight’s first priority is getting fuel to Air Force planes safely. Their around-the-clock mission enables seven flying squadrons to achieve their mission objectives effectively. After all, without this team of approximately 80 refueling unit operators, Little Rock’s C-130s wouldn’t even be able to leave the ground.

The flight supports several units from different major commands: Air Mobility Command, Air Education and Training Command, as well as the Guard and Reserve.

What makes their job a bit more challenging than other similar sized bases is the fact all aircraft refueling is done by R-11 refueling vehicles.

“Bases with similar fueling missions to Little Rock have active hydrant fueling systems which are less labor intensive. So being limited to just trucks, we have to work harder,” said Green.

Although fuel operators are allotted 30 minutes to respond to an aircraft, the fuels flight at the 19th LRS averages an impressive 8-minute response time. In 2013, fuel distribution operators on base pumped more than 20 million gallons of jet fuel.

“As the largest C-130 base in the world, Little Rock POL has an enormous responsibility to ensure the fuel requirements for each aircraft and vehicle is satisfied,” said Green.

The team manages all the ground fuel on base that keeps the approximately 550 assigned government vehicles on the road, as well as the deicing fluid that keeps aircraft flying in the cold winter temperatures. The fuels management flight also provides 100 percent of the liquid oxygen the aircrews need to breathe at higher altitudes.

The fuels flight does more than just support the base’s mission; they are also committed to personal time, volunteering on base and around the community, and achieving educational goals.

Green attributes the success of thefuels team to their close-knit camaraderie.

“Supervisors and management constantly seek venues to recognize those who go above and beyond, and off duty functions are organized to enhance morale and build a family environment while inspiring POL pride,” said Green.

Just over the span of a year, the flight volunteered more than 4,000 total hours to squadron, wing and local activities. Additionally, the flight had two distinguished Airman Leadership school graduates, two below-the-zone winners, and 10 Community College of the Air Force degrees were earned.

That team mentality spills over into working relationships with base maintainers, whose mission depends on POL products.

“We have a close relationship with the aircraft maintenance team to ensure fueling needs are prioritized efficiently to enable timely fuel support. The end goal is to get aircraft back in the air doing our Nation’s business,” said Green.

The old POL joke is “without fuel, pilots are pedestrians,” but the Air Force’s best team understands that the mission requires everyone doing their part with excellence.

“Our team knows they directly impact mission success,” Green said. “They understand not just the immediate impact of fueling C-130 sorties, but also the second order effects it has on C-130 intra-theater airlift in the area of responsibility and humanitarian airlift when needed. Our ground troops in dangerous locations count on the supplies our C-130s bring them. We understand it is imperative our aircrews become expert fliers, and are glad to provide them the fuel they need to achieve that goal.”

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