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Fueling the mission: One tank at a time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


It’s early morning and the sun is just rising over the horizon. Petroleum, oil, lubricants (POL) Airmen are already hard at work inspecting, testing fuel and fueling aircraft. These Airmen never stop; with 24-hour operations that handles up to two million gallons of fuel, they are mission ready at all times.

“POL’s job is to safely receive, store, quality check, and issue all fuel and cryogenic products on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida,” explained Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Northington, the fuels management flight superintendent with the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS).

From controlling their own accounting section to managing their own lab testing operation, POL Airmen perform a wide range of tasks to accomplish their mission.

“A typical day in POL consists of performing the refueling fleet ‘checkpoint’ inspection, inspecting all of our facilities, ordering fuel, receiving fuel, sampling fuel, processing all fuel transactions, issuing fuel and maintaining our readiness,” said Northington.

When POL Airmen are called to fuel, they must be ready at a moment’s notice.

“When we get a call requesting fuel, we have up to 15 minutes to get to them, but our average response time for our shop here is roughly seven or eight minutes,” Senior Airman Ernest Friedrichsen, a preventative maintenance supervisor with the 6th LRS.

The fuel provided reaches MacDill’s KC-135 Stratotankers, C-37A Gulfstreams, any aircraft that comes to MacDill, as well as aircraft around the world during refueling missions.

“Our main goal is to make sure the fuel is in good quality, accounted for and that the fuel gets to the aircraft in a timely manner,” said Airman Raymond Randall, a distribution truck operator with the 6th LRS. “The fuel we provide doesn’t just go to our aircraft, it goes to aircraft around the world so they can complete their mission.”

On top of maintaining fuel readiness for aircraft, these Airmen provide fuel throughout MacDill.

“We provide the fuel needed to power the base, whether it is Jet-A for the aircraft, ground products for the vehicle fleet, or emergency diesel for generators; we provide it all,” said Northington.

On average POL Airmen move more than 95,000 gallons of fuel daily throughout MacDill. They provide fuel on the homefront as well as throughout the world. Their efforts allow the Air Force to be mission-ready to rapidly project airlift and air refueling across the globe.