Deployed Civil Engineer Airmen enable fully operational runway

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Squadron completed flight line repairs to Bagram Airfield's main runway June 9, 2014.

The undertaking tasked Airmen to repair four sets of Ultra High Molecular Weight polyethylene panels. The panels are located underneath aircraft arresting system cables on Bagram's Airfield. The panels prevent the arresting cable, when rolled over, from eroding grooves in the underlying pavement, which prevent prolonged runway closures and expensive repairs in the future.

Large bolts hold down each poly panel. The repairs included testing each of the 992 bolts and extracting any that failed to meet a specified torque requirement. Among the 992 bolts, 502 failed the test and were replaced.

"It was the epitome of teamwork and self- sacrifice that returned Bagram's main runway back to full operational capability," said Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Ion, 455 ECES project non-commissioned officer in charge, and a native of Duluth, Minnesota who is deployed from the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minnesota. "The barrier arresting kits have been repaired providing another fail-safe for landing aircraft," Each Airman involved with the project performed above and beyond our expectations."

The project was scheduled to occur throughout June, but was completed early.
"Initial plans for the project were for the entire month of June," said Maj. Ryan Kaspari, 455th ECES operations chief, a native of Duluth, Minnesota deployed from the 148th FW. "We were permitted 16 outages throughout the month to complete the project. I estimated it would require 12 days, but we finished in eight."

Prior to the endeavor, the planning was very detailed. Leadership organized Airmen into specific groups to complete different tasks. Testing and training were conducted, while concept drills were rehearsed and materials gathered. Experts spent many hours studying manufacturer's instructions and conversing with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.

"This project was the most well planned, and well executed project I've ever been a part of," said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Gilbert, 455th ECES chief enlisted manager, a native of Portland, Oregon deployed from the Air National Guard 142nd FW, Portland, Oregon. "The creativity and ingenuity of our Airmen played a crucial role in the completion of the assignment."

According to Lt. Col. Jason Lay, 455 ECES commander, a native of Portland, Oregon, by the end of the project the Airmen were producing higher levels of proficiency and productivity.

Bagram is the busiest military airfield in Afghanistan and even in the entire Department of Defense; it serves as the hub for several airframes to include the C-130 J Super Hercules, A-10 Thunderbolt II, EC-130 Compass Call, HH-60 Pave Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-1B Predator, MC-12W Liberty and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"Our Airmen understood the importance of this mission," said Lay, who is deployed from the 142nd FW. "This project will likely be the most important task our Airmen complete while deployed. It is unlikely another project will have as much impact on the mission as this one. Because of the dedication and effort of every Airman from both squadrons we are handing over a completely operational airfield several days, even weeks, ahead of schedule."