JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- U.S. Air Force Col. Kirsten Aguilar, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) and 673d Air Base Wing commander, participated in 673d Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) immersion tour at JBER, Alaska, Aug. 28, 2020.
The focus of Aguilar’s tour was to get to know the 673d CES Airmen and their role in supporting the joint base partnership on the installation.
“Most people think of pilots and planes, and that mission of deterrence and defense, but you have to have a functioning air base to land and store those aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Lawyer, noncommissioned officer in charge of construction management assigned to 673d CES. “Gen. Henry H. ‘Hap’ Arnold once said, air bases are a determining factor in the success of air operations. The two-legged stool of men and planes would topple over without this equally important third leg.” For us, that’s the important leg we fit into. The macro view of 673d CES mission in a nutshell is we plan, design, establish and sustain these air bases that are so vital and so important to the Air Force mission.”
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dillan Owen, a 673d CES explosive ordnance disposal technician, emphasized how critical Airmen are to completing the mission.
“When it comes down to it, Airmen are the hands and feet, and the ones doing the job,” Owen said. “Having a capable and solid core of Airmen is extremely important because they are often the ones who identify issues first, being the first line of defense.
We also protect the base against explosive threats. We go from a complete stop of operations to bringing the base back up and running in a safe way as quickly as possible.”
Airmen engage day in and day out to maintain readiness and keep the squadron performance running at full throttle.
Trainings include Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force or BEEF, basically engineers ready to go out the door at any time to assist with any overseas contingencies and a monthly training day, which can include field training or computer based training. Additionally, there’s a requirement for Prime BEEF members to attend a Silver Flag Exercise, a contingency civil engineering and services-focused base recovery exercise.
The 673d CES also helps maintaining a $11.4 billion infrastructure and provides superb real-property maintenance and construction, support utilities, fire and disaster protection, explosive ordnance disposal, housing services, planning, and environmental management for over 84,000 acres of property while supporting a JBER population of 35,000 people.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Timmer, a fire department firefighter assigned to 673d CES, shared what it’s like to be part of the squadron.
“The squadron itself is amazing,” Timmer said. “When I first came into the squadron, I had just graduated tech school with all these new concepts of firefighting. You get to show your co-workers, your brothers and sisters they can rely on you. The best part of the job is being there for people. We make everyone feel safe. We give them a blanket of comfort.”
After dedicating a whole day with the 673 CES Airmen, their different sections, and how they help keep the mission running, Aguilar parted ways thankful and acknowledging the importance of the squadron’s mission and how it supports JBER’s mission.