Airmen of the 627th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and heavy equipment flight do more to enable operations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord than meets the eye, especially during the winter.
Technical Sergeant Andrew Harris, noncommissioned officer in charge of the pavement and heavy equipment flight, and his office are responsible for snow and ice control on the McChord Field flightline and the roadways of JBLM.
“If we don’t take care of the air field and the base, it would shut down,” Harris said. “Operations would be interrupted.”
The team of seven takes preventative action before freezing weather to deter any mission interruption. They de-ice the flightline and priority routes on the base to ensure routes are clear, especially for the aircraft. The team uses a de-icer, a dump truck with a tank of E-36 de-icer on the back of it, to spray the roads.
“Our primary mission is to ensure the airfield is in good working order,” he said. “So far this winter, we have been called out more than 15 times to de-ice the roads.”
Due to members being deployed, the flight only has seven operators. They must rely heavily on its 16 trained augmentees to assist when they need extra hands.
“On New Year’s Eve, we got called to come in because it was going to snow that night,” he said. “We had to call in some of the augmentees to help us. We couldn’t have gotten the job done without them.”
When it’s not freezing outside and they are using their equipment, Airman 1st Class Cody Choe, heavy equipment pavement construction operator, enjoys operating “Dozer.”
“Dozer (a bulldozer) doesn’t require any finesse — it’s fun,” Choe said. “We play with Tonka trucks and go home — it’s pretty cool.”
Harris also enjoys the equipment they operate, especially the backhoe.
“When you’re in the equipment, you feel like you’re on top of the world,” Harris said. “My favorite thing about backhoe operations is the people you get to work with.”
Harris and Choe agreed the sense of unity in their shop and squadron makes their job worthwhile.
“The best part is working with people and the camaraderie,” Choe said. “We could be on any job and, as long as I’m working with a good group of people, it’s fun.”