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ECES Airmen perform rapid repair after storm

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Squadron Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment shop repaired the airfield here in response to damages inflicted by two lightning strikes Oct. 24, 2018.

The flightline’s rapid restoration after stormy weather ensured minimal mission stoppage.

“We coordinated with airfield management on figuring out a timeframe where we could go out to the emergencies,” said Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Hill, 379th ECES airfield maintenance NCO in charge. “After coming up with a game plan, they sent out a Notice to Airmen to various squadrons on what would be going on. We then got our tools, equipment and materials ready to make repairs.”

Although patching-up the airfield was a major priority, the Airmen conducting repairs made safety their top concern.

“Lightning is a big factor … we have to make sure everyone is safe. It’s the number one priority,” said Senior Airman Chris Lapinski, 379th ECES pavement and equipment operator. “When dealing with a lot of metal equipment the storm can make it difficult but other than taking those safety precautions, the work is basically standard.”

Lightning wasn’t the only consideration, as the crew had to navigate active missions as well as stay in communication with support agencies.

“Two-way radio communication is paramount," said Hill. "Depending on where we are on the flight line, we may have to move out of the way due to an In-bound flight emergency. Any miscommunication or delays in action can put aircrafts, pilots, and my team in jeopardy.”

Lapinski credited his team’s ability to rapidly repair the flightline to superb teamwork.

“It was absolutely our cohesiveness,” said Lapinksi. “It was the response rate, the fact we were able to come in, hear what happened, get everything together within moments, and get this all fixed as quick as possible. It’s what we do best and what most impressed me.”

Hill said the rapid runway repair was an opportunity for his team to skillfully exercise his career field’s most important capability.  

“I have a great team that works for me, which enables us to get the job done in a timely manner ... it boils down to our overall training as ‘Dirt Boyz,’” he said. “Our number one mission is to build, expand, and maintain the airfield in order to continue the mission. It was just business as usual.”