Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs June 10, 2022
Lajes Field, Portugal, known as the “Crossroads of the Atlantic,” has served as the backbone for airlift missions from the United States to Europe, Asia and Africa since its construction in 1934.
The installation is uniquely situated on the islands of the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic ocean. A small team of Portuguese and U.S. Air Force Airmen facilitate operations as part of the 65th Air Base Group. Lajes has not only served a pivotal role throughout World War II, fueling and supplying over 1,900 American aircraft, but continues to provide support to the Portuguese Search and Rescue 751st Squadron.
“At Lajes, we are the sole fuel provider for the Portuguese SAR squadron,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Peak, 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section chief. “The fuel we provide helps the SAR cover an estimated two million square miles, providing people in that perimeter emergency help when needed.”
Additionally, Lajes has continued to innovate by finding methods to reduce fuel waste. This is done by reusing excess fuel not utilized throughout missions. Unused fuel goes through extensive tests measuring its cleanliness and viability for future missions.
“It came to our knowledge that the Portuguese air force from the mainland was dumping unused fuel instead of reusing it,” said Jaime Da Silva, 65 LRS physical science aid. “Speaking with the Portuguese, we were able to show them the extensive process used to reuse fuel and save the Portuguese military money.”
The 65 ABG is only one of many geographically separated units carrying out Ramstein Air Base’s mission to provide Europe’s only airlift, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation flying operations.