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Expeditionary fuels flight pumps out record

Balad Air Base, Iraq -- Airmen with the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron's petroleum, oil and lubricant, or POL, flight pumped a lot of gas recently. In fact, they set a record for the highest number of gallons of fuel issued in a single month over the last three years. 

POL Airmen received and issued a record-breaking 3.6 million gallons of fuel by tank truck and R-11 refueling units to every type of aircraft that touched down at Balad Air Base in January. The flight also issued more than 220,000 gallons of diesel fuel for myriad support equipment and vehicles at Balad. 

"This achievement speaks volumes about the herculean efforts the Airmen are making," said Lt. Col. Thomas Daack, the 332nd ELRS commander deployed from Aviano. "They're directly contributing to combat success in the deployed environment." 

Their recent feat shows the number of missions POL Airmen have supported, and the sheer number of aircraft taking off and landing from the Balad flightline. 

"With the recent rotation of the (Air Expeditionary Force) cycles - changing personnel, moving cargo and keeping the power running in the generators - the amount of fuels moving was pushed to an all-time high," said Senior Master Sgt. John Nordquist, the 332nd ELRS fuels superintendent and a guardsman deployed from Hector Field, N.D. 

In the past three months, fuel use ranged from three to 3.6 million gallons. According to the fuels Airmen, that amount could refuel an F-16 more than 2,700 times. 

An aviation fuel, JP-8, used to power most Air Force aircraft also powers generators, support equipment, lights and aerospace ground equipment and can even run Humvees in a crunch, according to the POL Airmen. 

The Airmen also refuel military and non-military aircraft, and other services' aircraft and vehicles. Their support equipment is specialized to aid in downrange operations and help cope with the elements at Balad. 

"Knowing our mission here is a direct link to bombs being dropped is very satisfying," said Staff Sgt. Gabriel Temples, the NCO in charge of fuels bulk storage deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. "It's validating to actually see the results of our work."
The deployed environment presents its challenges, too. 

"The airfield here is much busier and complex than our flightline at our home station," said Airman 1st Class Victoria Drefs, a 332nd ELRS fuels distribution operator deployed from Aviano. "It's also a challenge maintaining vehicles in these harsh (environmental) conditions." 

The Airmen can see firsthand the results of their work in a deployed environment, and know that not only do the pilots depend on them, but the entire base population depends on their fuel to keep running. 

"It's easy to see the results of our work, being deployed here," Airman Drefs said. "For every plane that takes off successfully, we know we had a part in the success of their mission."