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NEWS | June 14, 2010

JB CHS staff sergeant keeps it cool in Middle East

By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

With daily temperatures averaging 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit every day, having the right kind of technical expert on hand to make sure air conditioners and related equipment are functioning properly is in high demand. One such Airman is Staff Sgt. Christopher Varnes.

Sergeant Varnes, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration craftsman with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia, is part of a team of civil engineer Airmen who work every day maintaining heating and cooling systems as well as other systems for a deployed wing, the 380th Air Refueling Wing, of more than 1,900 people.

"When the temperatures rise, it's our job to make sure important systems and people stay cool from the blistering heat," said Sergeant Varnes, who is deployed from the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. "We're usually the ones out in the heat keeping it cool for the folks working indoors. We work hard and are proud of the work we do."

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration Airmen like Sergeant Varnes are trained to complete a myriad of tasks and jobs. According to his official Air Force job description, Sergeant Varnes installs, operates, maintains and repairs heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, combustion equipment and industrial air compressors. He also naintains and repairs non-electric kitchen equipment.

Sergeant Varnes is trained to interpret drawings and schematics and install heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems component as well as to install, repair, fabricate and test piping and tubing systems, the job description states. He is also trained to install, connect, troubleshoot and maintain heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems controls and test equipment for proper operation such as balancing air and water in systems.

Furthermore, Sergeant Varnes maintains mandatory job knowledge is several areas to include knowing principles of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, controls, and components; combustion systems; air and water balancing; non-electric kitchen equipment; industrial air compressors. He knows how to interpret drawings and schematics and knows fundamentals of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems equipment and related troubleshooting techniques.

When he first joined the military and the Air Force, Sergeant Varnes didn't know he would be where he is today doing the work he does but he is proud to serve his country.

"I'm proud to be here to do whatever I need to do to get the mission done," said Sergeant Varnes, whose hometown areas are Charleston, S.C., and Virgina Beach, Va. "Serving in the military is something I do with great pride."

The 380th ECES is a sub-unit of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The wing is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, air battle management, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia.

The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.