Faces of Fairford: Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL)

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Meet Master Sgt. Ralph Smith, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel supervisor, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to RAF Fairford, England, in support of Bomber Task Force Europe.


501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs: “What has it been like working here at Fairford?”

Master Sgt. Ralph Smith: “We’ve been working in integrating well with the local unit here, they’re very friendly individuals.”


PA: “Who’s been working with you to support the operation?”

Smith: “We have a nine-man team here. We have four Airmen here with us, and four other NCO’s besides myself, to complete the mission here at Fairford. We’ve been running two shifts, dayshift and night shift, working seven to seven, to cover any aircraft needs, or anything the locals might need help with.”


PA: “What is it like to do your job?”

Smith: “Why we’re here is to make sure that all aircraft receive the proper amount of fuel that they need for takeoff. We do hot pits [refueling aircraft while the engine is running], cold pits, we issue fuel to any ground equipment, such as all the aerospace ground equipment (AGE). We’ve also been integrating with the local shop in helping catch anything they need us to catch, so the transient aircraft that have come in since we’ve been here.”


PA: “How does it feel to be part of this mission here?”

Smith: “It’s exciting, because it’s something that hasn’t been done in a long while. My team’s proud to be here and to help get the jets off the ground so we can help with the mission.”


PA: “How do you and your team stay motivated?”

Smith: “Trying to do anything and everything we can to help out. When the maintenance operations center needs us, or the maintenance guys need us, we go out there in a hurry and make sure we get the fuel in the aircraft. We enjoy working here because it’s a different environment, we’re using different equipment than we’re using back home. It’s a new experience for us.”


PA: “Can you talk about the recent Iceland refueling mission?”

Smith: “We did a lot of coordination with that. We spent months and months in coordination to get that stuff to happen. With the Iceland rotation, there is no military presence there besides the locals and civilian airport. On our side, in order to make it a successful mission we had to ship trucks in, make sure the fuel is of spec and of qualifications, make sure everything was good on our end. It took a look of coordination with a lot of higher headquarters individuals to ensure that all the equipment and everything was set up prior to us arriving.”


PA: “What is your role in the bigger mission here?”

Smith: “Our role is make sure the planes get off the ground, because without fuel they can’t leave the ground. Especially without the AGE equipment, they can’t do their checks. Planes don’t fly without fuel. It’s especially important when it comes to hotpit time, that we’re out there and ready to go when they come down due to the fact that they’re doing a rapid change. They come down, they’re on the ground for an hour and a half, and they’re back up in the air.