48th LRS: Fueling the mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tiffany M. Deuel
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Unlike days long ago, people today live in a world always on the go. Everything is much faster. The modern person expects a 'fast' option for almost anything. Fast cash, fast food, fast service and most importantly, fast transportation. However, fast transportation does not come easy or cheap. No matter how shiny a car is or how new a jet's engine is, they both will be sitting pretty unless they have an important liquid that will bring them to life. That life-giving liquid is gasoline.

At Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base, Bulgaria, during the joint-exercise Sentry Gold, the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants Airmen dedicate themselves to keeping the gasoline flowing.

Sentry Gold is a joint-training exercise between the U.S. and Bulgarian air forces designed to continue Bulgaria's integration into NATO and build partnership capacities between the two air forces. None of that would be possible without POL Airmen providing that fuel.

"During this exercise, we issued approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel," said Master Sgt. Gerald McGrael, 48th LRS POL fuels operations superintendent.

The exercise might have been over before it started if not for the efforts of Tech. Sgt. Patrick Cripps, 48th LRS POL NCO in charge of fuel support, and a handful of other Airmen. The necessary tools, a variety of trucks, fuel pumps and other equipment, was delayed in Romania, and Sergeant Cripps and a team of TMO specialists were forced to do almost a week's worth of work in one day.

"The equipment was supposed to show up over the course of three or four days, but instead it arrived all at once," said Sergeant Cripps. "We had 20 vehicles that four of us had to off-load in one day. We didn't have a forklift, so we had to rent one off of the economy just to unload the equipment. We finished two hours before the jet-catchers arrived."

After the delay of equipment, the POL team encountered another challenge when the equipment used to transport fuel from the tanks to the refueling truck malfunctioned.

Staff Sgt. Michael Mizer, 48th LRS POL refueling maintenance specialist, was able to fix the equipment and avoid the delays that would have come if the team had needed to order a new machine.

The work being accomplished by the POL specialists goes beyond keeping getting the fuel where it needs to be. They've also built partnerships with their Bulgarian air force counterparts.

"We watched each other's operations. We saw some of their mechanical skills and how they do things versus how we operate," said Sergeant McGrael.

The Liberty Warriors were impressed with the ingenuity of the Bulgarian fuel specialists.

"We even saw them fix a pump with a rope," said Sergeant Cripps.

The Bulgarian fuel specialists taught the 48th LRS POL how to use Bulgarian systems of maintaining, receiving fuel, filtering capabilities and analyzing fuel. The main difference is the type of fuel they use.

"The reason we had to bring our own trucks is [the Bulgarian air force fuel specialists] don't use JP-8, and they don't have the connections necessary to refuel fast enough in between go's for the F-15s. Our trucks have a rate of 600 gallons per minute where theirs' have a rate of 500 liters per minute", said Sergeant Cripps.

Maintaining the "fast" option is crucial to military operation and the POL Airmen here are providing fuel efficiently and quickly, keeping the mission up to speed with the fast-paced demands of today's world.