PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Sept. 12, 2019 —
I am Staff Sgt. Andrew Taylor. After serving on Air Force active duty for over eight years as a 2F0X1 Fuels troop, I transitioned into the Air Force Reserves and elected to become an Individual Mobilized Augmentee. As a student, IMA allows me to attend class during the school year and condense all of my annual Reserve training in about one month.
Once selected, I was assigned to Defense Logistics Agency Energy Hawaii on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as a quality assurance representative. As a QAR, I am responsible for validating proper procurement of Energy assets, which includes fuels of various grades, as well as cryogenic products like liquid oxygen and nitrogen. Primarily, I verify product samples are drawn and tested accurately ensuring test results meet the specifications outlined in the contract between DLA and the supplier.
In July, I got my first taste of the QAR life when I arrived on Oahu. I jumped in learning the local fuel storage and pipeline layout, the Pearl Harbor fuels lab, and Navy fuels operations. I shadowed Daniel Muranaka, a veteran DLA Energy QAR, for on-the-job training where our first main task was verifying a pipeline shipment of jet aviation fuel injected with additives from a nearby commercial refinery.
One late Sunday evening, we arrived at the refinery to visually witness a selection of fuel tests, checking quality for anti-icing agent levels, flashpoint, appearance and cloud point. These tests are critical because bad fuel in an aircraft can be catastrophic. Once those tests passed inspection, Daniel gave the refinery approval to send the first batch of fuel through the pipeline to a distribution hub near JBPHH. About four hours later, not long before dawn, we pulled a two gallon sample from the end point and tested it to make sure the fuel was clean and uncontaminated.
It was then we noticed a problem. Part of the supplier’s pipeline maintenance is to periodically clean, but this process left some residual water and sediment. Not only could sediment in the fuel cause damage to an engine, but water in the pipeline was actively pulling out the anti-icing agent which is essential at higher altitudes. Over the next two days, we witnessed the contractor flush the pipeline several times with clean fuel, pulling and testing samples each time, but the fuel could not meet contract specifications. In the end, we declined the shipment and worked with the contractor to find a way to fully flush the pipeline.
Without Daniel’s or another QAR’s oversight testing fuels throughout the procurement process, bad product could enter the system and endanger lives. When I become a fully qualified QAR IMA, I will be responsible for procurements across the Pacific region and be deployed anywhere the Warfighter needs fuels support.
It is a QAR’s duty to ensure the specifications of the contract are met anytime and anyplace. I’m proud to be able to be a part of that.