The 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels section traveled across the Atlantic July 15 for its annual tour at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. After 15 hours of travel from sunny Arizona, members from the Reserve unit shook off the jetlag and hit the ground running.
The arrival of the 944th LRS Airmen came at a critical time for the 100th LRS.
“They arrived at just the right moment as we are minimally manned due to deployments,” said Master Sgt. Carl Boswell, 100th LRS Fuels, Training and Support NCO-in-charge. “Their assistance in the daily operations, with very minimal supervision, helps us out tremendously.”
Every year each reservist performs a 15-day annual tour to increase working knowledge of their career field. This year the 944th LRS is responsible for the fueling of a vast array of aircraft traveling through the Mildenhall.
Running checkpoint on R-11 refueling trucks, assisting aircraft refueling operations and working in the area lab were just a few of the things that the 944th Airmen were tasked with while assigned to the 100th LRS. Exceptional expertise and experience was evident to the host unit.
“They brought skills that were beneficial to the specific fuels functions at Mildenhall,” Boswell said.
In addition to filling critical gaps in manning during their time in England, training was a big priority. With Mildenhall being a very busy base for military flights running through Europe, 944th Airmen knew they were being given valuable training opportunities, and their skills would be put to good use. C-130, C-17, KC-135, CV-22 and other airframes are parked on the ramp at any given time needing to be fueled.
“We need to know how to work on all fuel systems, as we may come across them in a deployed environment, and we are expected to be proficient, regardless of the airframe,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Mahan, 944th LRS Fuels NCO-in-charge.
The 944th Fuels Airmen were also able to view a rare mission for an LRS. The 100th LRS is home to just one of five bases that deploy specially trained fuels Airmen to forward air refueling point missions. A FARP gives commanders all over the world an opportunity to set up remote refueling stations to accomplish critical missions far from aerial refueling assets and large bases. This was an opportunity for the reservists to view a side of their career field not often seen.
It was apparent the total force experience was beneficial to both the 944th and 100th fuels sections. “The 944th Fuels Airmen are extremely eager and willing to assist in all areas needed. They have been a welcome asset to our mission,” Bowsell said.
From the 944th side there was nothing but praise for their active-duty counterparts.
“The 100th LRS Fuels section has been accommodating, professional and most impressively, they are extremely motivated. It is obvious that they take their job very seriously,” Mahan said.