ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —
Every day at the 97th Air Mobility Wing, approximately 19 aircrew fly sorties around the clock, using up thousands of gallons of fuel in the process. Additionally, dozens of vehicles require gasoline to transport both personnel and supplies to the flight line.
Who provides this tactical supply chain management? The Fuel Service Center (FSC).
Altus Air Force Base’s fuel account is the largest in Air Education and Training Command, disbursing 40 million gallons of aviation fuel annually. FSC falls under the 97th Fuel Management Flight, which provides clean, dry aviation and ground fuel and cryogenics to support the only strategic airlift, aerial delivery and air-to-air refueling training programs of the Air Force. at any given time, their fuel lab staff perform approximately 1,054 fuel samples and 3,000 analyzes per year. All these tasks are managed and planned by the FSC.
“Most people think of the fuels as the pilots getting out and refueling the plane, but the professional field does so much more than that,” Tech said. sergeant. Austin Overbey, the current NCO in charge of the FSC. “This job requires a special type of person. Someone who is organized and can help out.
The complete team is made up of two non-commissioned officers, a controller and two accountants. Staff Sgt. Jesse Giffin, who succeeds Overbey, oversees the office and is responsible for everything that ensues.
“My job is to mark up all the fuel we receive and dispense to make sure it’s filled out correctly on the paperwork,” Giffin said. “We enter all the numbers into different spreadsheets to make sure we maintain our control limits for our fuel. If we go below or go above, I make adjustments with the order.
As controller, Senior Airman Devon Muldrow manages FSC’s communications systems and plans all fuel operations.
“When I first arrive I have to know where everyone is and make sure we have people in place,” Muldrow said. “If the emergency phone rings for an in-flight fuel emergency, I would be responsible for getting the appropriate personnel to the aircraft.”
Overbey explained that the controller must be able to answer questions about the fleet: which aircraft or vehicles are in service, which are out of service and why. He went on to say that the team’s two accountants, Lead Airman Don Jeffers and Lead Airman Jacob Scarbrough, rotated.
“They look at the books and tally up every gallon on the base, which is a lot, especially with a base that uses heavy aircraft,” Overbey said.
The importance of FSC is evidenced by its ongoing efforts to keep the mission going during a pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit, we were getting fuel trucks here,” Giffin said. “There was still fuel to be sampled, still people who needed gas.”
Giffin said many days don’t stop, and a single mishap could disrupt aircrew training and cost the Air Force thousands of dollars. With all of this in play, trust plays an important role.
“Some days these phones are off the hook, all day,” Overbey said. “We need to be able to rely on each other to help us. I have to trust my team to do every aspect of their job to make it easier for me to get my job done.
Operating largely behind the scenes, it may seem easy to ignore the FSC, but their efforts provide crucial support to the operations of the 97th AMW. As Muldrow said, “If we’re not on top form, it can affect the whole mission.”