POL: refueling the Air Force mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Stanton
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A day in the life of the Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants Flight of the 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron starts out the same as any other, but once shift roll call is over, it all depends on the intensity of the day's flying schedule and what other inspections and runs need to be done. 

"We provide clean, dry fuel and trained personnel to support the mission of the Air Force," said Master Sgt. David Merten, 49 LRS POL flight section chief. "But it is a little more complicated than that. We wear two hats and work not only for the Air Force but the Defense Energy Supply Center as well." 

The 68 Airmen and six civilians of the POL flight are responsible for forecasting requirements, receipt, storage and inventory control, quality control, and sales and billing of all DESC-owned fuel at Holloman. 

"We support the 49th Fighter Wing, German Flying Training Center and all tenant units with aviation and ground fuel, as well as liquid oxygen," said Sergeant Merten. "We also support the flying mission of Whites Sands Missile Range by providing aviation fuel to the Army." 

A run is made when a product is brought to a customer and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. The Holloman POL flight does an average of 80 runs a day. 

"A T-38 might take 20 minutes where a KC-10 or B-747 can take an hour or more," he said. "A diesel run to our furthest geographical customer takes three hours." 

Training within the POL flight is done when the Airmen are not pushing fuel to the customers. 

"We do fire training, flightline safety, confined space awareness, fetal protection and hearing conservation training," said Senior Airman Samantha Bowman, 49 LRS refueling maintenance. 

Airman Bowman works in refueling maintenance where she makes sure all refueling trucks are serviceable and ready to do the job necessary for the wing mission. 

Even though a POL Airman's job intensity is based on the intensity of the wing mission on any given day, it is still enjoyed because of the constant learning opportunities. 

"I enjoy my job very much," said Airman Bowman. "No two days are the same for me. Anything can break on an R-11 (a hydrant servicing vehicle) at anytime and might make a good learning experience for everyone in the shop." 

The POL Airmen perform a vital mission and it's a behind the scenes support role that is never really appreciated until it's not available. Think about that the next time you are filling up your car at a gas station.