My first MOS was a Quartermaster MOS: 92F (Petroleum Operations Specialist). I went to AIT at Fort Lee, VA and was in V Company (Fired up!). Training lasted a few months, and we did everything from pipeline operations to aviation operations, and culminated with a week-long field training event called Log Warrior (now called SWFTX). Here is what I learned from being an aviation fueler.
I was lucky enough to be assigned to an aviation unit. From day one, I was focused on running specific tests on our fuel to ensure it was adequate to put into aircraft. If an aircraft ever crashes, they immediately look at the fuel that was put into it and what tests were run on it (to determine if the fueler section was being negligent). This made our job feel very important, knowing that the aircrews relied on us to do their job thoroughly. There was a lot more to it than just pumping fuel into a truck! The two big tests are for water parts per million and sediment. The limit for aviation grade JP-8 is 10 PPM for water. That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. Fortunately, ours was usually around 1.
Our main vehicle was the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). The M978 is my favorite vehicle because it was the first one I was ever introduced to, and it is an amazing truck to have learned on. I feel like I can go anywhere in that thing.
We were also responsible for setting up Forward Area Refueling Points (FARPs) very frequently. We would set them up so that we could practice our safety procedures and also so the aircrews could practice hot refueling (hot refueling is where they leave the rotor blades turning). There’s a lot of static electricity produced by the rotors, so we had to ensure that we had every safety measure prepared.
I found that nobody got into our business unnecessarily, as long as we were squared away. We worked hard to get everything set up properly and to exceed the standard. I worked with Soldiers who took pride in their job, even though it typically isn’t thought of as very exciting. My fuelers in my platoon now are the same exact way. We all have a common thread and fuelers tend to have a special quality to them. Maybe it’s all the JP-8 we are in contact with. On deployment, refueling for a medevac unit is a 24/7 job. Everyone has to be ready at all times to perform their job.
Final Thoughts: Nothing beats eau de JP-8! I am very fond of my days as a fueler and have been very lucky to be able to lead a group of them today.