After almost 43 years with Aircraft Service International Group, Ron Ash is handing over his fuel truck keys for the last time today, and heading south to retirement and his family in Florida. “My wife retired from the Feds seven years ago, and she’s been in Florida the last five years waiting for me to retire too,” Ron told us. “I’ve been flying back and forth once or twice a month. It’s been hard on us, being separated like this. She finally said ‘Enough is enough! Retire!’ So this is it.”
“Mr. Ash”– as he is respectfully called by coworkers and managers alike – is an aircraft refueler at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. In his capacity as Fuel Lead, he’s responsible for scheduling six other drivers that cover refueling for all flights of a specific airline during any given shift. “I’m proud to have that responsibilty. It isn’t easy to shuffle trucks and people efficiently to ensure the planes are fueled on schedule,” Ron told us.
“On average, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to fuel a jet with 8,000 gallons of fuel, and that’s not including set up time,” he said, adding “A one-way flight to Florida uses 2,000 gallons – that’s 13,000 pounds of jet fuel.”
A local shop steward for over 30 years, Ron said he likes people and helping them with their problems, adding “I can talk to anybody.” It was easy for him because he knew the job, what it takes to perform well, and knew what to do or who to see to solve a problem. “Sometimes I was the bad guy if I didn’t get the right results. But that’s just part of the job of being a shop steward. Things don’t always go the way we’d like, but we do the best we can.”
Ron admitted that as much as he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family, who all now live in Florida, retirement is bittersweet. He loved his job – the only job he’s had since he graduated from high school.
Ron was born and raised in Baltimore City. He served two years in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and a tour in Korea, then married the love of his life in 1974. “My life wasn’t really going in a good direction, but my wife changed me around,” Ron said. “Marrying her was the high point of my life.” They have one son and a 13-year-old granddaughter who, by all accounts, is the sunshine in his life.
“The family needs me. I’ve been going back and forth to Florida since we bought a house there five years ago. It’s worn me out. So now I’m gonna do some golfing and fishing, and be a snowbird: we’ll live in Florida nine months and here (at their home in Carroll County) three months of the year. Easy!” Ron said with a big grin.
Good luck, Mr. Ash, and God speed.