Civil Engineers, the Backbone of Operations at Andersen
By Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis
36th Wing Public Affairs
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Royal Australian and U.S. Air Force members operate machinery in the rain during Silver Flag April 25, 2017, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Silver Flag is a multilateral Theater Security Cooperation Program subject matter expert exchange event designed to build partnerships and promote interoperability through the exchange of civil engineer related information.
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam, May 22, 2017 —
Airmen from the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron are standing-by at all times with an arsenal of machinery and skills to keep Andersen Air Force Base up and running.
Even with eight different flights and a variety of career fields like electricians, plumbing and HVAC making up the 36th CES, maintaining the integrity of structures and safety on Andersen is no easy task.
“We have the ability to do anything the base requires, from fixing signs to airfields,” said Airman 1st Class Austin Prendez, 36th CES pavements and construction equipment journeyman. “Making sure everything is set up for mission success is our number one priority, no matter what that means.”
Prendez is a “Dirt Boy” in the horizontal repair section of the operations flight, a fitting name worn as a badge of honor for Airmen who are not afraid to work hard and get dirty under the Guam sun. Whether that’s digging up a broken waterline or repairing a hole in a road. On a daily basis he uses an array of heavy construction equipment to repair and maintain the base infrastructure.
“Working with heavy machinery on Andersen helps with familiarization, so when it comes time to deploy, we know how to operate the machines and it’s nothing new,” Prendez said. “We train year-round and conduct readiness exercises to ensure we are fully prepared and can smooth out any wrinkles now rather than later.”
During an exercise, operations tempo can be very fast paced as the need to restore all parts of an airfield to working condition is essential, Prendez said. Exercises like Silver Flag, a Pacific Air Forces course that hosts nations from all across the Pacific for training and to build interoperability, allows Airmen to work in a controlled environment to be better prepared for a deployment as well as daily task on base.
“During Silver Flag, in January 2017, we quickly learned how important teamwork, communication and trust is to our mission,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Muller, 36th CES electrician and a graduate of Silver Flag class 17-1. “Without these key factors, we would not be able to accomplish our goal, hindering the main objective of the Air Force.”
Large scale exercises allow Airmen to see and better understand the logistics of a total force exercise, Muller said. Everyone learning to work together and communicate is key during training and helps translate everything we do daily to ensure Andersen stays up and running.
The different sections often come together on Andersen to complete a tasking that goes beyond one section’s specific skill set and capabilities. Airmen rely on training and practice for the ability to come together and interoperate smoothly with other sections.
The 36th CES has a full schedule and keeps busy working on the different structures that support all service members and operations of Andersen. Whether the power supply goes out, water stops flowing or the flightline needs immediate repairs, the dedicated technicians of the 36th CES will be there day and night to fix any issues.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the U.S. Pacific Command website.