JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ, US-- --
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is located in a temperate climate, which means the base receives all four seasons, and occasionally what feels like the weather gods rolling dice, to decide which season it’ll be on any given day. The fall hurricanes turn into ice and snow, and the giant machines used to remove it can cause havoc on a cement and asphalt surface if not properly maintained.
Cue the Civil Engineering Squadron’s walk in music.
Taking care of the 108th’s infrastructure is a year round job, from removing snow and ice from the tarmac to summer repairs of the apron. Spring means it’s time to inspect old man winter’s damage and prepare to fix the cement and asphalt that our planes rely on everyday. Tech. Sgt. Sean Joseph, the 108th Civil Engineering operations manager, and Senior Airman Mike Vasilakos a 108th CES engineering assistant, work with other 108th members to meticulously inspect and document every crack and pick up every spall (flakes of material that are broken off of a larger solid body) caused from snow removal equipment or the roots of vegetation under the cement. The inspections are just the beginning of the process of preventing more damage.
Old man winter does more then just damage the flightline, his arrival causes building pipes and their contents to expand. While the civil engineers are pretty good at keeping their buildings warm in the winter there’s not much they can do because some pipes, connectors, and valves will expand and contract without bursting. Over time, they will break their seals and start leaking. This is something Airman 1st Class Marchelle Charles from the structures shop knows all about. He fixes the leaks that can destroy ceiling tiles, dry wall, and possibly the equipment the rest of the unit uses daily.
While Charles is replacing the tiles after fixing a leaky fixture, Aiman 1st Class Thojae Peoples from the heating ventilation air conditioning shop is inspecting and preparing air conditioning units for the summer season. These large sheds contain aluminum walls that hold fans larger than a person, and a cave entrance barely wide enough to fit a person. This is not for the claustrophobic, but Peoples crawls into the darkness with a flashlight and his knowledge. Checking the belts is one part of the preventative maintenance inspection, but the knowledge behind maintaining motors, coolant, and understanding the electrical systems that trigger these monstrous wind tunnels is the real trick of the trade.
While spring may be the time for annual inspections, the preventative maintenance is simply one moment in time, and only a few things the squadron does as a whole, to maintaining the infrastructure of the wing. Vertical, horizontal, and everything in between, the 108th Civil Engineering Squadron works year round to keep the 108th operational.