AFMC Command News

Fueling success: How 88th Logistics Readiness Squadron keeps mission moving forward

  • Published
  • By Hannah Carranza
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --  The 88th Logistics Readiness Squadron embodies the 88th Air Base Wing’s mission of “strength through support” by providing the safe and effective deployment and management of Airmen and Air Force assets. 

The squadron achieves that through sound logistics planning, contracting support and purposeful partnerships with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, its 115 tenant units and off-site military logistics operations within a five-state radius.  

“We move people, cargo, freight, supplies and weapons in and out of the base,” said Gary Beckley, 88 LRS deputy director. “It happens here.” 

The squadron is made up of roughly 35 Department of Defense civilians and 200 contractors. They include certified master mechanics, bus drivers, logisticians, warehouse specialists, freight and fuel experts, supply-chain managers and other professions. 

“The wing does all that dirty work so everyone else can do their job,” explained Thomas Riste, 88 LRS director. “Everyone here in the office and our contractors out in the field take pride in making sure the mission gets done.”                                                                                          

Materiel Management Flight supports Airmen, aircraft 

The Materiel Management Flight provides supplies to the installation and support to assigned and transient military aircraft.  

“We are essential in many different ways,” said Robert Spires, the flight chief, “from supplying the deployers with their required gear to supplying aircraft with parts.” 

When it comes to base supply, the flight provides protective equipment such as gas masks, weapons, boots and helmets to deploying Airmen and for required training. It maintains about 21,600 items of supply and equipment valued at roughly $31 million. 

The Materiel Management Flight also provides parts and maintenance for aircraft at the 445th Airlift Wing, a tenant reserve unit with a critical flying mission on Wright-Patt.  

“It’s rare for maintenance to be under LRS,” Spires said, “but since no aircraft is assigned to the 88th, maintenance falls under LRS by default.” 

Flight personnel also support transient aircraft using 88 ABW’s flightline by escorting them to assigned parking spots and providing maintenance, if needed. 

Spires said 88 LRS is responsible for supporting distinguished visitors such as generals, the president, vice president and secretary of defense during their travel within the region. 

“People don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes when they see the president get off his plane while they’re flipping through the news,” he added. “No one knows what all goes into making that happen. There’s a lot more to it than just landing somewhere.”  

Many 88 LRS civilians and contractors are retired military, choosing to find purpose by continuing the mission through their roles within the squadron. 

“I’m retired military, so I still carry that pride with me,” Spires said. “We are doing the same thing, just not in a uniform. We are still helping to get missions done.” 

Operations Compliance Flight handles ‘additional duties’ 

The Operations Compliance Flight functions as a command support staff for the director and squadron by performing security, safety, training, personnel, emergency management, antiterrorism, facility management and government purchase card-related services.  

“My flight’s primary duties are what would be considered additional duties so the rest of the flights can focus on what they’re good at,” said Chad Zeretzke, 88 LRS Operations Compliance Flight chief. 

As the squadron’s resource adviser, Zeretzke manages roughly $12 million annually, making sure contracts are getting paid and financial requirements met. 

The Operations Compliance Flight also maintains and runs the self-assessment program within 88 LRS, assuring the squadron delivers quality services to the installation. 

“We coordinate with the other flights to make sure we are running the correct checklists and we are making sure the program is being done and running efficiently,” Zeretzke said. 

Finally, the flight coordinates with contracting officer’s representatives to make sure contractors stay in compliance, meet requirements and are up to date on their training. 

“Everything we do here helps the other flights and the contractors by allowing them to do what they need to do,” Zeretzke said. 

Mass quantities flow through Fuels Flight 

The Fuels Flight receives, issues and stores around 6 million gallons of jet fuel for transient aircraft and 445 AW, as well as providing roughly 23,000 gallons of liquid oxygen a year to their pilots. 

“There isn’t much of an Air Force without jet fuel,” said James Byers, 88 LRS Fuels Flight chief. “It’s nice knowing where you fit into for the grand scheme of things with the base.”  

The flight stores, receives and delivers 59,000 gallons of regular ground fuel and 91,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, supporting the 88th Civil Engineer Group, its snow team, the WPAFB Fire Department, 88th Security Forces Squadron, 88th Medical Group, and refueling stations on areas A and B.  

Fuels Flight personnel gain satisfaction knowing they’re helping support a worldwide mission on a weekly basis, Byers said. 

“It’s awesome to go out there and talk to the pilots and watch the mission go,” he added. “Every day, you’re leaving knowing that you did something and you’re helping; it’s a good feeling.”  

The ‘conductor’: Deployment and Distribution Flight 

The Deployment and Distribution Flight acts as gatekeepers for Airmen preparing to deploy. 

The root of what we do is getting our Airmen from here to where they’re needed fully equipped, trained and prepared.
Jeff Carson, flight chief, Deployment and Distribution Flight

“The root of what we do is getting our Airmen from here to where they’re needed fully equipped, trained and prepared,” said Jeff Carson, flight chief. 

It handles the strategic aspects, supporting the wing and combatant commander by filling an average of 500 deployment requests a year quickly and accurately, while providing Airmen with the required equipment and training needed for their deployments. 

“It’s like a full-blown orchestra,” Carson said, “and we are the conductor of that orchestra, making sure all the pieces are moving as they’re supposed to.” 

With over 30 years of federal service, as well as being a unit deployment manager before he retired from active duty, Carson understands the value of taking care of Airmen before they go downrange.  

“Airmen already have enough to worry about on a personal level when they are deploying,” he said. “Not worrying about if they have the right equipment or proper training makes you feel good knowing you’ve helped them focus on their mission getting done correctly.” 

Another important aspect that falls under the Deployment and Distribution Flight is managing, rewriting and updating support agreements for tenant units on the installation. 

“If we can accurately codify the real need for people and money, that’s good for the 88th,” Carson added. 

Carson said coordination is key. During COVID-19 restrictions, for example, 88 LRS and its flights set the standard of logistical excellence within the Air Force as WPAFB became an aerial port of embarkation, receiving roughly 200 people every two weeks.  

“They wouldn’t even have to handle their own luggage,” recalled John Henderson, 88 LRS Vehicle/Transportation Contract Management Flight chief. “We processed them, got them tested, got them fed and housed, gathered them up and their luggage, and off they went.”  

The squadron provided not just a safe location for Airmen to quarantine but took their mental wellness into account by providing safe and healthy opportunities for exercise and activities to cope with the isolation, officials said.  

It coordinated and created stronger connections with the 88th Force Support Squadron to provide safe places for Airmen to eat and 88 MDG to deliver health care services. 

Carson found the workload challenging, but very meaningful.  

“We might joke about who’s more important, but in the end, it takes a village to make it happen,” he said. “We have a lot of fun doing what we do.” 

Moving people, equipment and goods 

Henderson says 88 LRS personnel play a role in just about everything that happens at Wright-Patterson AFB. 

“If you tell me your day, I’ll tell you how I touched your day, and how someone within the LRS realm affected you,” he said. “It’s an interesting dynamic and I love it because it’s never the same thing and you’re always taking care of people.”  

Ground transport, freight and vehicle maintenance comprise the Vehicle/Transportation Contract Management Flight, making it responsible for physically moving people, equipment and goods at WPAFB.   

“If it’s people and boxes on this base, we move it,” Henderson said. 

Through taxis, shuttles and trucks, ground transport drives a little over 257,000 miles, ships more than 5,500 household goods in and out of WPAFB, and transports over 57,000 passengers every year. 

Vehicle maintenance repairs and maintains close to 870 vehicles annually. It partners closely with 88 CEG to make sure vehicles like commercial lawn mowers, flightline sweepers and snowplows are up and running, performing the mission of installation support. 

Henderson worked in vehicle maintenance before he retired from the Air Force and has always found value in building relationships with partner organizations and within the flight.  

“For the most part, everyone out here is a retiree, so we can’t go downrange anymore,” he said. “We understand what they’re going through and take care of them while they’re here; I love that.”   

Henderson feels passionate about what he does within the Vehicle/Transportation Contract Management Flight. He points out the variety of missions that come through WPAFB, including humanitarian and support missions.  

“By seeing all those things grow and happen, I can go home at the end of the day saying, ‘I made that better,’” he said. 

Building a culture of pride 

The civilian and contractor team at 88 LRS has forged a tight bond, leaders say. 

“Our team of professionals make the dirty work look clean, no matter the task or customer,” Beckley said. 

The organization’s director echoes the deputy’s sentiments and expresses the pride he feels in his squadron’s hard work.  

“What I take pride in is that we do it behind the scenes and we are able to pull it off,” Riste said. “They don’t have to come and tell us you did a job because we know we did. The guys that are out there doing the work are knocking it out of the park. They take pride in what they do, and we know that.” 

They don’t have to come and tell us you did a job because we know we did. The guys that are out there doing the work are knocking it out of the park. They take pride in what they do, and we know that.
Thomas Riste, 88 LRS director

Through his leadership, Riste has built and inspired a culture of trust, hard work and family within 88 LRS.  

“This LRS is the closest to a family unit that I’ve been in since I was deployed,” Henderson said. “We take care of each other, we look out for each other, we make the impossible possible and we get it done.” Spires calls Riste the “greatest manager I’ve ever been around” in the 40-plus years of his military and government service. 

“He really cares about the people, and you don’t see a lot of people like that anymore,” he said. 

Unit leaders say 88 LRS is the lifeblood of logistics operations on the installation, whether it’s providing fuel to aircraft and government vehicles, sending equipment and Airmen downrange, or managing and writing support agreements for tenant units on the installation. This squadron is committed to providing strength through support. 

“LRS as a whole is the best,” Byers said. “It’s fun coming to work, and everyone here is so good at what they do, and no matter what comes up, the mission always gets done.”