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NEWS | Jan. 16, 2007

Squadron commander highlights Airmen's work, dedication, awards

By Lt. Col Russ Hula 437th Civil Engineer Squadron

While some may accuse me of being biased, I think most people would have to look far and wide to find another career field in the Air Force that impacts the lives of our Airmen and their families as much as the civil engineer.

Traditional facility engineers, environmental professionals, housing specialists, entomologists, heavy equipment operators, firefighters, readiness technicians and explosive ordnance disposal technicians, both military and civilian, have missions as varied as the specialties that make up the career field. Air Force civil engineers do amazing work, often under difficult circumstances or in the face of great adversity. Their jobs take them all over the globe: to accomplish bare-base beddowns in Southwest Asia, natural disaster relief in Central America and humanitarian assistance in Eastern Europe.

Over the past year, most engineers have gone on their third and fourth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11. However, the job these military and civilian Airmen do for the 437th Airlift Wing is just as important here at Charleston AFB as it is overseas because of the critical airlift mission our aircrews, maintenance and aerial port professionals provide to the warfighter.

As the commander of the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron, I'm very proud of the accomplishments of our unit over the past year. Our squadron won five 2006 Air Mobility Command awards. Jeff Garrett, our Environmental Flight chief, won the Harry P. Rietman Award, as the Senior Civilian Manager of the Year. Our Fire Department won the Chief Master Sergeant Ralph E. Sanborn Award as the Outstanding Fire Protection of the Year. The Resources Flight won the Major General Robert C. Thompson Award. Our environmental team won both the Air Mobility Command Outstanding Environmental Flight Award and the Pollution Prevention Award.

For the first time in our history, our Fire Protection Flight and our Environmental Flight went on to win their respective Air Force-level awards and will receive their trophies in February in Washington D.C. The entire 437 CES was the runnerup for the Air Force Robert Curtin as the Outstanding Civil Engineer Squadron Award for the second consecutive year. These are all great awards that we are all very proud to be a part of; however, everyday, I'm amazed at the work that our Airmen continue to provide to the mission with little or no fanfare.

Airmen such as Senior Airman Ryan Barrows, whose primary mission is to maintain, install and repair all heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment on buildings supporting the C-17s, as well as more than 500 other facilities on base. This includes all mission-essential computer equipment and server rooms, aircraft cleaning and paint booths for the C-17s. He also performs weekend and after-hour service to more than 600 family housing units.

Senior Airman Marc Jason Dalope is an electrical power production journeyman that takes care of everything from generators for all critical facilities, to fire suppression pumps for multi-million dollar planes and aircraft-arresting barriers during in-flight emergencies. This is a tremendous amount of responsibility for a young Airman, who also happens to have completed a bachelor's degree in electronics and communications engineering.

Senior Airman Jack Whitmer is a structural journeyman who is responsible for facility maintenance for over 260 facilities on Charleston AFB and North Auxiliary Field, completing over 1,200 service calls annually. He also serves as the Operations Flight roof technician. He recently reviewed $700,000 worth of roof contracts for accuracy, which led to renegotiations saving the Air Force over $65,000.

Lastly, I'm proud of Airmen such as Airman 1st Class Michael Dunnigan, a fireman, who exemplifies the word "Wingman." He "adopted" a fellow Airman who was recently hospitalized. He made visits to the Airman in the hospital nearly every day of the two-week stay, took care of his room and vehicle and let him know that someone in his life did care about him.

These Airmen are true assets to the 437 CES and the 437 AW. I want to publicly recognize these and the rest of the 437 CES "Outlaws" -- thank you for another great year and for what you do everyday!