Airmen of the night, POL

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Autumn Vogt
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

When the sun has set and any bright color remaining in the southern New Mexico sky has left, few people stay awake.

While the streets are practically empty, there are a select few Airmen awake and ensuring the 49th Wing mission is moving. This series highlights the individuals who regularly follow the Air Force core value of “service before self” by doing their job while others are asleep in the comforts of their home.

The 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil and lubricants flight has Airmen working 24/7, ensuring that the aircraft and government-owned vehicles are filled up on gas and are mission ready.

“Fuels is important because without fuel on base nothing would operate,” said Senior Airman Rian Onekeo, 49th LRS fuels distribution operator. “Generators are not going to be running, government-owned vehicles will not have fuel, the aircraft cannot take off and support the mission. I would say fuels is a very important part of the mission.”

The POL Airmen transport the fuel with many different fuel trucks such as the R-11 Refueler truck, which carries a maximum of 6,000 gallons. Knowing how to drive them is the backbone of their job.

Senior Airman Trent Fogg, a 49th LRS control center operator said everyone who joins their career field learns to drive refuelers first because of their importance. He was originally a distribution operator driving the refuelers but now works in the control center. In the control center he acts as dispatch - keeping accountability of the fuels on base and coordinating where the distribution operators need to go. 

When flying is not occurring the Airmen in POL focus on dropping diesel in their tanks at the servicing stations and supporting the maintenance runs by emptying and refilling gas between maintenance.

The team members all work together to ensure the mission is completed around-the-clock. Part of what helps this unit perform is their high morale.

“I really enjoy (my job),” said Fogg. “The people who work here are in good spirits and we are happy to do our part of the mission.”

Without the support of POL, the aircraft on the flightline would be unable to take off and mission-essential travel with government-owned vehicles would be halted. These Airmen ensure the 49th Wing mission is moving forward by making sure aircraft are fueled to fly, supporting the training of F-16 Viper and MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators.