SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
The 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels flight, also known as Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants, provides, stores, tests and distributes fuel used at Spangdahlem Air Base Germany, and is essential in the 52nd Fighter Wing’s mission of providing full-spectrum airpower to joint and allied commanders.
The fuels section works around the clock to provide the base with high-quality fuel to power aircraft, vehicles, and equipment, and while recent guidelines to protect Airmen and families from COVID-19 have challenged the base, POL continues to ready the force.
“We have adapted in many ways to ensure our personnel are safe, but still able to accomplish our mission,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. John Hudson, 52nd LRS fuels management flight commander.
The unit is comprised of various sections including the fuels laboratory, facilities, fuel information service center, distribution, training and support, admin support, and fuels management team.
“Primarily, our goal has been to schedule only essential manning that we need each day to accomplish our tasks,” said Hudson. “Additionally, we have implemented a ‘teaming construct’ in which the same personnel are on shift together for a week at a time, and then swap with a different team.”
Hudson said more safety measures include moving of desks, limiting carpooling, and refraining from lounging in common areas.
“Through all of this we have been able to stay just as effective,” said Hudson. “This is proven by our ability to still receive and transfer fuel, test the fuel to ensure it meets our quality standards, perform maintenance on our fuel delivery trucks, and refuel aircraft, just to name a few.”
Other diverse tasks POL Airmen perform include checking fuel lines, valves, and tanks, fuel transportation management, cryogenics, vehicle and equipment refueling, material purchasing, and more.
Even POL Airmen not scheduled to perform tasks on base during the pandemic are just as ready to respond 24/7.
“To ensure we are available when not here at our main building, all on-shift Airman get in uniform and are ready to come in on a moment’s notice,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cory Wasinger, 52nd LRS fuels operations section chief.
While enduring operations have proved difficult, Airmen found ways to overcome them.
“The challenges I have faced with this going on is working with minimal manning,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Heppler, 52nd LRS fuels facilities supervisor. “I have set my mind up to be flexible and ready for a change at any moment. I am now slowing down, taking my time, but still getting the normal day-to-day task completed.”
Heppler also looks at the positive side of the existing circumstances.
“I look forward to situations like this as much as I dread them,” said Heppler. “If we pursue and do not completely fail, we learn.”
While there is currently no set date to end restrictions, the unit feels assured they can stay mission ready.
“Looking forward, we feel as though our team could maintain these altered operations as long as the mission dictated,” said Hudson. “We are all confident that we can adapt our operations as this current challenge continues to evolve, but also as future challenges are thrown our way.”