Joint Base Fuelers Keep Aircraft Ready

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — With realign­ments, base clo­sures and joint bas­ing ini­tia­tives bring­ing togeth­er all four ser­vices here, the Air Force’s 87th Logis­tics Readi­ness Squadron has tak­en joint­ness to a new lev­el keep­ing their broad mix of air­craft fueled.

Once upon a time, the 87th LRS was respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing petro­le­um, oil and lubri­cants pri­mar­i­ly for C-17 Globe­mas­ter III and KC-10 Exten­der air­craft assigned to wings at McGuire Air Force Base, as well as for tran­sient air­craft at the base. That was before McGuire merged with neigh­bor­ing Fort Dix and Naval Air Engi­neer­ing Sta­tion Lake­hurst on Oct. 1, 2009, to become the Defense Department’s only tri-ser­vice base.

It also was before two realign­ment actions brought Navy and Marine Corps units from Naval Air Sta­tion Joint Reserve Base Wil­low Grove, Pa., and Marine Corps assets from Marine Corps Reserve Cen­ter John­stown, Pa., to the New Jer­sey base dur­ing the past sev­er­al months.

The merg­er and new arrivals brought to the joint base a full com­ple­ment of Army, Navy and Marine Corps fixed-wing and rotary air­craft -– all now being fueled by the 87th LRS.

“At most deployed loca­tions, it’s pret­ty typ­i­cal to ser­vice all types of air­craft,” said Air Force Senior Mas­ter Sgt. Jon Kristof, 87th LRS super­in­ten­dent. “But at the state­side loca­tion, it is some­what out of the norm to do it on a reg­u­lar basis. That doesn’t mat­ter to us here. We ser­vice them all.”

The changes have increased month­ly fuel out­put here by about 600,000 gal­lons, for a total of about 4 mil­lion gal­lons. Most of the new­ly arrived air­craft are heli­copters or small­er fixed-wing planes with rel­a­tive­ly small fuel tanks, Kristof explained.

“That means we do a lot more [fuel] runs, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly a lot more gal­lons,” he said.

Learn­ing to refu­el dif­fer­ent air­craft, and to work with oth­er ser­vices to iden­ti­fy their unique ways of doing things, involves “a learn­ing curve on both sides of the fence,” Kristof said.

“As new cus­tomers, they have to adapt to how the Air Force does busi­ness, and we have to adapt to how the oth­er ser­vices do their busi­ness when they are refu­el­ing,” he said. “Even though we are all Depart­ment of Defense, we still speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage, so we have all learned a lot about that over the last year and a half.”

That makes Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lake­hurst a per­fect train­ing ground to keep the fuels man­age­ment flight primed for future deploy­ments. It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly valu­able, Kristof said, in giv­ing junior mem­bers such as Air­man 1st Class Alon­so Hall expe­ri­ence work­ing with oth­er ser­vices before their first deploy­ments.

Hall, with just 14 months in the Air Force, has been a quick study. He was named the 87th LRS’ “Pumper of the Month” in June for per­son­al­ly dis­pens­ing 422,271 gal­lons of JP-8 jet fuel. Hall’s recog­ni­tion came short­ly after the 87th LRS was named the Air Force’s best fuels man­age­ment flight for fis­cal 2010.

The award marked the first time the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lake­hurst squadron received the Air Force’s only flight-lev­el award, pre­sent­ed by the Amer­i­can Petro­le­um Insti­tute. The award was based on direct mis­sion sup­port, inno­v­a­tive man­age­ment and qual­i­ty-of-life ini­tia­tives.

“This was a total team effort in every way,” said Air Force Chief Mas­ter Sgt. Eric Stone, the 87th LRS’ flight chief.

“Every per­son in this flight had a part in win­ning this cov­et­ed award,” he said. “The accom­plish­ments for the pack­age were col­lect­ed from our home base, down­range, Army, Navy and Marine Corps per­son­nel mak­ing this a true joint-base accom­plish­ment.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)