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Serving again: Prior POL troops continue to fuel airpower in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The busiest airfield in Afghanistan is fueled by a team who turned in their combat boots and uniforms for polos and khakis.

The 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management section, commonly referred to as POL, enables Resolute Support and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel by supplying all aircraft, to include military, contracted and civilian, with the fuel needed to deliver airpower.

The POL team is mostly civilian contractors, with some military members. However, the civilians all have something in common.

“We have a diverse background of employees, all of which have previous military experience in the Air Force or one of the sister services,” said Master Sgt. Jay Elledge, 455th ELRS fuels management. “They all bring unique experiences and attributes to the fight. While some services may do things differently, all of them share the fundamental elements of POL.”

The POL team is responsible for delivering clean, dry fuel to the aircraft, providing liquid oxygen and nitrogen to aircraft that need it, and conducting laboratory analyses on the fuel supply.

One of the team members served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2004, retiring as a sergeant first class.

“I was a 92F while I served, which is a petroleum supply specialist,” said John Mosley, 455th ELRS fuels distribution site manager. “During my time in the Army, I fueled everything from aircraft to tanks. You name it, I fueled it.”

After retiring from the Army, and taking much needed rest, it wasn’t long until Mosley started to work again—doing the very thing he loved most.

“I still wanted to serve the men and women in uniform, so when I became a civilian, I went back to doing the same thing I did in the Army,” he said.

Mosley has been working at Bagram for more than four years, and while missing time with his family may be difficult, they all know he is doing this for the greater good of the United States and Afghanistan.

“Our fuel enables so many missions, from close-air-support to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, all of which supports and defends airpower,” he said. “We are out here day-in and day-out, producing 24/7.”

Mosley, and the rest of the civilian POL workforce, not only have decades of experience, but years in deployed environments like Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. The knowledge they have pays dividends since the airfield receives military and civilian aircraft from multiple countries, all with different procedures.

“The military is a melting pot of different people, which makes a diverse workforce, and prepares us to work with a variety of nations,” Elledge said. “Our prior service members have had the benefit of deploying and being stationed overseas, so the environment over here is no different than something they may have experienced elsewhere.”

The team distributes millions of gallons of fuel to thousands of aircraft a month, ensuring personnel and cargo arrive at their destinations and coalition forces receive air support. Instead of choosing another line of work, in a less austere environment, the POL team chose to come back, to fight for the common good.

“It’s a testament to the character of the person to come back and serve again,” Elledge said. “The core values we learned in our services stick with us; even after retirement and separation, it is carried over into the civilian sector.”