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Fueling the Mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tori Schultz
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"Over the past year our total force mobility Airmen moved over 320K tons of cargo, 876K passengers, offloaded over 1.2 billion pounds of fuel, and transported over 4K patients," said General Carlton Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander during the 2015 Airlift Tanker Association Convention.

AMC would not be able to provide rapid global mobility without the help of fuel specialists.

Fuel specialists at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, have a unique mission when it comes to refueling the fight. It is their responsibility to ensure every aircraft is fueled with quality fuel before it leaves on an assignment.

Not only do they refuel KC-135 Stratotankers and C-37As with enough fuel for their flights, they also load them with enough so they can conduct aerial refueling in their areas of responsibility.

In addition, their other responsibilities include receiving, storing, and issuing all petroleum products for use in Air Force equipment as well as maintaining storage facilities where millions of gallons of fuel are stored.

"No fuel in our planes means our aircraft can't get off the ground to refuel other aircraft that are completing their own assignments," said Airman 1st Class Keith Emberton, a fuel specialist and distribution driver assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

For Emberton and other fuel specialist at MacDill, mission readiness begins first thing in the morning. He starts with the daily task of donning personal protective equipment and taking separate fuel samples from each of the 14 fuel trucks filter systems to ensure particles and water are staying out of the fuel.

"We use a see-through container to identify any particles that may be in the fuel," said Emberton. "If we do see particles we test the fuel three times and if it is still dirty we pump all the fuel out of the truck and into a type three hydrant system."

Due to the humidity in Tampa, moisture in the air can make its way into the fuel tanks as well. If water makes its way into the fuel and is transferred onto the aircraft it can cause the engines to not start or even worse shut off midflight. To ensure this doesn't happen, everyday a gallon of fluid is drained from the bottom of all tanks to deplete any water that has settled. All samples and drained fluid are disposed in a reclaim bowser.

When asked how the fuels team helps to support the mission, Tech. Sgt. Perry Strimpel, the NCO in-charge of fuel distribution assigned to the 6th LRS, replied, "Pushing freedom, one gallon at a time."

By performing daily fuel checks, fuel specialists help maintain Team MacDill's mission readiness and provide support to nine combatant commands.