Living his dream

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Two weeks after his high school graduation in June 1965, George Tyras joined the United States Air Force and became an aircraft fueling operator in U-Tapao, Thailand, servicing KC-135 and B-52 aircraft from Vietnam. Operation Rolling Thunder was underway and gas was 31 cents a gallon. 

For the next 25 years, Tyras would serve around the world in various aspects of aircraft fueling operations until he retired as a Senior Master Sergeant at Mildenhall, United Kingdom, in July 1990.  

“I was living my dream in the Air Force,” Tyras said. “I enjoyed all my assignments.”

A year after retiring from the military, Tyras was hired by Defense Logistics Agency Energy’s predecessor organization, Defense Fuel Supply Center, as a quality surveillance representative. At Camp Libby, Pohang, he was responsible for ensuring quality in receiving, storage and shipping operations for more than 500,000 barrels of petroleum to support the Korean peninsula. 

Tyras had many adventures throughout his federal career, including stepping foot in Sobong, North Korea.

“One of my most memorable adventures was when I was selected to be one of two quality assurance representatives to sail on a Chinese tanker from South Korea to North Korea to deliver a load of heavy fuel oil, a gift from the U.S. and South Korean government in January 1995,” Tyras said. 

After transiting 45 hours in rough seas, the ship arrived in Sobong where the ship was boarded by North Korean officials and searched. 

“It took five days to discharge the product,” Tyras said. “It was a very sensitive time.”

Twenty-eight years later, Tyras is ending his career with more than 54 years of total federal service.

“I immensely enjoyed the challenges of the operations, the travel, and supporting the Warfighters,” Tyras said. “Almost every DLA Energy quality operation was an adventure. Why quit from what you love doing?”

Tyras spent his entire federal career as a DLA Energy Quality Assurance Representative. In 1997, he went to Defense Fuels Office Ankara, Turkey, then to DFO Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he operated the fuels laboratory. In 2001, he worked at Defense Fuel Support Point Grand Forks, North Dakota, and then returned to Korea in 2003. 

Two years later Tyras accepted a position at DFSP Baltimore, Maryland, before again returning to Korea in 2007. In 2014, he accepted his last position back at DFSP Baltimore where he will retire.

“George Tyras’s achievements over the course of 54 years is remarkable,” said DLA Energy Americas Quality Manager Michael H. van Dongen. “He has mentored and coached four quality assurance specialists during his tenure who now are among the best in our workforce.”

Rodrigo Gonzalez, a supervisory quality assurance specialist for DLA Energy Korea, was trained by Tyras.

“George was one of my mentor’s when I joined the quality arena back in 2010,” Gonzalez said. “He is thorough and patient when teaching, not just his peers but the youth. He constantly volunteered with multiple organizations and would convince office personnel to join him.”

Tyras says initiative is a key to success.

“Volunteer! It will build your experiences,” he said. “Take as many courses as you can, visit your customers frequently, keep your supervisor informed and do at least one overseas reassignment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

DLA Energy Americas Supervisory Quality Assurance Specialist Clayton Allen agrees that Tyras has been a strong asset to the DLA Energy mission.

“George’s performance has been exceptional, he has genuine concern for the Warfighter and who he is supporting,” Allen said. “George’s technical expertise and extensive fuels experience made him a member of the most elite group of professionals who sought to resolve tough and perplexing operational energy challenges. His personal performance has left an irreplaceable and overwhelmingly positive imprint on the DLA Energy Americas, and every person who has had the privilege to work with him.”

From everyone at DLA Energy, thank you George for your dedicated service. Best of luck and happiness in your retirement.