From the Frontlines: Staff Sgt. Matthew Dickman

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Whether stateside or overseas, aircraft can't get off the ground to perform their daily missions without fuel. Regardless of the severity of the weather, the mission must go on and Airmen working in the fuels flight must ensure aircraft are refueled to keep the mission going.

While serving from the frontlines in Southwest Asia, with the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron as a mobile distribution center supervisor, Staff Sgt. Matthew Dickman, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels service center controller, had the responsibility of ensuring all aircraft on base were refueled safely and in a timely manner.

"While expediting refueling operations, my duties included driving around the flightline to confirm Airmen safely refueled aircraft, and that they had the tools needed to get the job done," Dickman said. "Sometimes there would be 10 to 20 refuels going on at a time. So I had to prioritize the order in which aircraft received their fuel."

Dickman left for his deployment in June 2011 and returned in of January. In addition to expediting refuel operations, Dickman directly impacted mission success by refueling 892 aircraft, and issuing 4.9 million gallons of jet fuel during his deployment.

"The fuel we provided allowed 58,000 tons of cargo to be airlifted and delivered," Dickman said. "Fighter and bomber aircraft wouldn't be able to provide air support or fly combat sorties because they wouldn't have been able to lift off of the ground."

Unlike Whiteman where his duties kept him in the office, in Southwest Asia, Dickman stayed on the flightline.

"The big difference between the refueling mission at Whiteman Air Force Base and the mission in Southwest Asia was that there were a lot more aircraft to be responsible for while I was deployed," Dickman said. "Instead of only telling refuelers where to go and what aircraft to pump fuel into I also helped issue fuel."

Dickman said the most difficult difference between his job at Whiteman and his job in Southwest Asia was not being able to drive home to be with his family at the end of the day.

"My son was seven-months old when I left for Southwest Asia. I missed his first birthday, his first steps, his first words and all the major milestones in his first year," Dickman said. "I also missed all of the winter holidays, my wife's birthday, and our anniversary."

Overall Dickman says the most rewarding part about his deployment was working with the large variety of aircraft that needed refueling and being able to pump millions of gallons of gas over the course of his deployment.

"Something every deployed Airman in my career field works toward while deployed is try to pump a million gallons," Dickman said. "I did it my first month there."

Not only did Dickman complete a career milestone with the amount of gas he pumped in Southwest Asia, he also sewed on his fourth stripe during his deployment. His supervisor, Tech. Sgt. Beau Piper, 509th LRS fixed facilities NCO in charge, said Dickman immediately took on the supervisory role and gave Airmen guidance in performing their refueling duties on the flightline after becoming a noncommissioned officer.

"What Dickman did over there directly impacts everything happening in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom," Piper said. "His performance over there was not only vital to getting the mission done, but also in accounting for the fuel and ensuring every Airman was operating safely so everyone could come home."