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Lifeblood of the Mission

U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Samantha Copeland is the Fuels Flight's newest recruit at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Lealan Buehrer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Samantha Copeland is the Fuels Flight's newest recruit at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Lealan Buehrer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Samantha Copeland prepares to refuel a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy for the first time at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Lealan Buehrer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Samantha Copeland prepares to refuel a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy for the first time at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Lealan Buehrer/Released)

12/18/2012 -- When Airman First Class Samantha Copeland arrived at the 182d Airlift Wing last month from her Technical School, she was introduced to not only a unique career field, but a distinctive working environment as well in the 182d Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Flight. "I really like the Guard as a whole. It's kind of like a family and everyone takes care of each other, and I really like that...People really do stay in here for a long time," she noticed.

Airman Copeland enlisted into the 2F0X1, a career field that facilitates the lifeblood of the mission: the fuel keeping the aircraft in the skies. "We fill the aircraft and account for all the fuel going in and out of the base, and then we also deal with the liquid oxygen and we do the lab stuff to test the fuel all the time, too," she explains. The distinctiveness of the job provides a exclusive setting that most career fields do not get to experience. "A lot of people don't get a lot of direct contact with the crew out on the flight line, so it is kind of cool to get to meet all those other people from different bases and work with them," she elaborated. And of course, part of the job involves operating formidable-sized fuel trucks that overshadow most vehicles a person will ever drive. Airman Copeland describes it as "definitely bigger than anything I've ever driven before...It's much different training than anything else, too."

Master Sergeant Andrew Edenburn proudly serves as the Superintendent of the installation's Fuels Flight. "The primary training goal in our shop," he says, "is to provide our airmen with the best training available. Producing highly qualified, technically sound and motivated leaders will always produce a great leadership culture. Once that culture is established, it's hard to erode."

While the Air National Guard has suffered profound budget cutbacks in recent times, Sergeant Edenburn explains that "those cuts have had little impact on training in the Fuels Flight. Providing quality training to our airmen will ensure when my generation of leaders moves on, the mission will continue. As we adapt to new requirements, budget restraints, and an ever-changing Air Force, it is important to never forget that airmen are our most valuable asset and they are as critical to winning a war as any ship, aircraft or weapon in our arsenal."

The Department of the Air Force describes the Fuels career field as one that encompasses operating, maintaining, and managing petroleum fuel systems and activities. This includes the entire spectrum of requisitioning, accounting, receiving, storing, dispensing, and testing of aviation and ground fuels, cryogenics, missile propellants, and alternative fuels.

The 182d Airlift Wing currently has several Traditional Guardsmen positions available at the Fuels Flight. For first-time enlistees, an enlistment bonus may also be available. When asked what she would say to someone interested in joining the Fuels career field, Airman Copeland says, "I really like it just because it is diverse...I would tell them that it's definitely a good one to be in."