EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
During RED FLAG-Alaska, there is a significant increase in flightline operations where aircraft refueling vehicles are in constant demand and fire trucks are always on standby in case of an emergency. The Airmen from the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Management are responsible for maintaining these vehicles.
Vehicle Management currently directs maintenance operations for a 673 vehicle fleet including 45 emergency response, aircraft refueling vehicles and 82 assigned mechanics.
“For RF-A 22-1, there are expected to be 1,763 sorties and 4.5 million gallons of fuel delivered,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Johnson, 354th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of Firetruck and Refueling Maintenance. “The fire truck and refueling sections have put in extra hours prior to the exercise to make sure the fleet is operational.”
In order to develop combat capabilities, the exercise also provides training for support personnel in sustainment of large-force deployed air operations. Taking on the challenge, Vehicle Management has established two shifts for continuous coverage for 15.5 hours per day and a 24 hour standby.
“We have sustained a 97% 24 hour return rate for mobile maintenance operations,” said Johnson. “This is thanks to the exceptional team that we have here that enables flying operations. Without this shop, aircraft refueling operations would cease to exist.”
Johnson also expressed that despite on-base and local community resource limitations, their mechanics have been successfully maintaining sortie-generating assets. As soon as a vehicle is turned in for service, Johnson’s team springs into action to ensure every vehicle is returned as quickly as possible.
“Vehicle Management is crucial to mission accomplishment,” said Johnson. “The local economy has limited capabilities to assist in parts and equipment acquisition so our skillset is crucial for maintaining many of the vehicles on base.”
For Senior Airman Ryan Moore, 354th LRS Vehicle Management/Fire truck and Refueling Maintenance journeyman, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing their hard work pay off.
“Every time I hear an aircraft take off, I just keep in mind that our time spent maintaining refueling aircraft is making that possible,” Moore said.