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Fuels work hard, but stay clean

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operator, carefully holds a collected sample of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) to test at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Inside the beaker is oxygen in liquid form. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

A beaker of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) is stationed in a testing area at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Airmen observe the beaker and the film of white paper inside to see and smell if the LOX has any discoloration, discrepancies or smell. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

A beaker of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) is stationed in a testing area at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. The beakers have a film of white paper inside to show if the LOX has any discoloration or discrepancies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

A tray of beakers are stationed in a holding area to be used for testing Liquid Oxygen (LOX) at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. The beakers have a film of white paper inside to show if the LOX has any discoloration or discrepancies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels facility operator, left, observes Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th LRS fuels operator, as he carefully handles Liquid Oxygen (LOX) at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Airmen wear specialized protective equipment to comfortably manage LOX so they don’t get burned. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operator, uses a beaker to collect a sample of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) to test at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Inside the beaker is oxygen in liquid form. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operator, uses a beaker to collect a sample of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) to test at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Airmen wear specialized protective equipment to comfortably manage LOX so they don’t get burned. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operator, uses a hammer to knock away ice that has frozen on a cryogenic servicing hose at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. The steam that comes off of the tank is LOX, and it is cooled, pressurized gas at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen

A Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank is filled with LOX at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. The steam that comes off of the tank is LOX, and it is cooled, pressurized gas at minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen
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Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels facility operator, adjusts knobs on a Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Airmen make sure the tank has the correct pressure to ensure if the tank is full. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen
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Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels facility operator, left, observes the pressure gauge on the Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank while Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th LRS fuels operator reads a checklist at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Airmen make sure the tank has the correct pressure to ensure if the tank is full. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen
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Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operator, left, reads a checklist to Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th LRS fuels facility operator, at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Each step is marked off on the checklist to ensure everything is done correctly. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen
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Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels operator, connects a cryogenic servicing hose to the small Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. LOX tanks come in various sizes, from 50 gallon to 6,000 gallon tanks. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels operators work with Liquid Oxygen
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Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels facility operator, left, carries a collection tray to Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th LRS fuels operator at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 4, 2020. Collection trays are used to catch any spilled liquid oxygen. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

Beale Air Force Base, Calif. --

When working with fuels it can get dirty and hazardous. 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron (LRS) fuels facility operators know how to stay safe, and clean in a dirty career.

Working with liquid oxygen is vital for U-2 pilots and the mission.

“Pilots rely on us to make sure they can breathe while wearing their suit,” said Senior Airman Corey Walton, 9th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels facility operator “We are always careful and critical to make sure nothing goes wrong when transferring liquid oxygen.”

Liquid Oxygen (LOX) is called Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen (ABO), it’s a pilot’s main source of air at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet.

“LOX is a cooled pressurized gas and it is minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Senior Airman Parker Turk, 9th LRS fuels facility operator, “It’s so cold we wear coveralls, gloves, face shields and boots to protect our skin from contact burns.”

After servicing and testing, the LOX is transported to the flight line where it is put into an aircraft safely for the U-2 pilots.

The reason fuels wear white is because it allows them to see any oil or fuel. Staying clean and healthy is important.

“We are staying even more vigilant with our personal and mission health,” said Airman 1st Class Brain Barrios, 9th LRS fuels operator, “We have taken all precautions in our shop to make sure that all Airmen remain safe around a substance people aren’t normally exposed to and that could cause extreme bodily harm. The personal protective equipment is specifically designed to comfortably work with LOX.”

With six fuels Airmen in the cryogenics section, they work around the clock to issue up to 500 gallons a week of LOX.

“To be honest, I know fuels is one of the most important jobs because planes can’t fly without fuel, and you can’t breathe if you don’t have air.” Turk said.