39th LRS fuels mission
By Airman 1st Class Devin M. Rumbaugh, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 07, 2016
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- A bead of sweat drips off the Airman’s nose as he lifts the fuel hose onto his dirt stained shirt and begins to haul it toward the generator.
The Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants shop Airmen were working 12 hour shifts fueling the base and all Operation INHERENT RESOLVE missions before the power outage. When the power went out, the POL shop was tasked with sustaining generators across the base, along with fueling flightline operations.
“When we went into work Monday morning, we were thrown straight into 24 hour operations,” said Tech. Sgt. Rodney Gray, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution NCO in charge. “We had to develop a plan to get fuel distributed to all of the generators and power plants on base.”
The plan consisted of diesel fuel trucks making rounds to all of the fuel locations. Each truck had two Airmen who would drive or pump fuel. The Airmen would switch places every two hours to evenly distribute the workload.
“Airmen were working 12 hour shifts, but the needs of the mission came first, so sometimes they would stay longer,” said Gray. “It didn’t matter if you were a technical sergeant or an airman in that situation.”
Airmen worked together to provide fuel deliveries to generators, mission critical vehicles, and operations on the flightline.
“We had to figure out how to distribute fuel to the fuel trucks, while also filling other critical vehicles that needed it,” said Senior Airman Christopher Killian, 39th LRS fuels hydrants operator. “After two days of nonstop fueling, we started getting worried about how much fuel the storage tanks had.”
With constant need of fuel, the 39th Air Base Wing relied on support from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Force Central Command.
Help came quickly in the form of a U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy equipped with an aerial bulk fuel delivery system loaded with approximately 5,500 gallons of fuel.
The ABFDS is a system that requires specially trained Airmen to load the fuel from the storage bladders on the aircraft through a fuel pump onboard the aircraft.
“We had 39th LRS Airmen watching the ABFDS service happen because it is probably something they won’t get to see again in their career,” said Gray. “This occasion simply doesn’t happen at an operational base like Incirlik.”
POL Airmen continued operations at the same pace until commercial power was restored six days after it was cut.
“The Fuels Management Flight shattered daily, weekly and monthly receipt records,” said Maj. Phillip Wheeler, 39th LRS commander. “It was humbling to see this in action. Titan POL stepped up to the challenge and hit a home run. I could not be more proud to be associated with this fine group of Airmen.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Incirlik Air Force Base website.