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.
The fuels management flight, also known as for petroleum, oils and lubricants, provides fuel support to 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 for approximately 60 aircraft, all government operated vehicles, generators and government refueling stations around base.
“We are a family here at POL, and we ensure we treat the base like that too,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Mendelsohn, 733rd LRS fuels management flight commander. “We give outstanding support and make sure the service [and fuel] we provide is of extremely high standards.”
To ensure the highest quality possible, the lab specialists 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 [and] R-11 trucks with a variety of data equipment we have, as well as sampling the barge that comes in,” Mendelsohn said. “There is an extreme amount of care taken to ensure 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 members, 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, materials, the laboratory and the control center.
The Airmen within those sections must constantly maintain their equipment to ensure it is operating properly and guarantee both the LRS and units across JBLE are mission ready.
“As a customer support agency, we make sure we have the resources and [Airmen] to provide whatever the base needs whenever it needs it,” said 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 members support the base is by refueling the emergency vehicles daily to ensure the fire department and medical services are constantly available for any emergency.
Along with supporting vehicles and aircraft, the POL 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 more than two million gallons of fuel, as well as two hydrant tanks which can store over 800,000 gallons of fuel.
The fuels flight supports different organizations beyond JBLE such as providing Airmen 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 you wouldn’t even think about,” Mendelsohn said. “When it comes to background support, fuels [is] 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,” Manyen said. “If you do anything on the base that uses energy or fuel, we have a part in it.”
Manyen and Mendelsohn agreed the members 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 we have at JBLE,” Mendelsohn said. “The first responders wouldn’t be able to get out 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.”