11 Dec 2013
Public Affairs Office
126th Civil Engineer Squadron trains in Australia

Story by Airman First Class Elise Stout, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

EXMOUTH, Western Australia - After a three-day flight, the Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) based at Scott Air Force Base, landed in Australia Aug. 24, ready to unload tools for the deployment for training (DFT).

The entire team of 35 civil engineers, ranging from electricians to operation managers, demolished a 5,000-square-foot building and surveyed the ground before a new pedestal was installed for a C-band radar satellite at Holt Naval base in Exmouth, Western Australia.

The 126th Civil Engineer Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Marc Eccher, of O’Fallon, Ill., said he knew what his Airmen were capable of in a short amount of time.

“Prior to the deployment, we planned long and hard on developing a list of what was needed to get the project started, but there were some unforeseen site conditions,” he said. ”Our team was resourceful and flexible, overcoming shortfalls and not losing any time in getting the project started.”

The project was a chance for the 126th CES members to work with many different people in one setting. Eccher explained this was a good thing to work with the Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile System Center and with the Australian Navy to develop this project.

Capt. Nathan Smith, with the 118th CES, of Nashville, Tenn., and the officer in charge of the project, said there were some challenges getting materials.

“This is due to the unusual procurement methods being used; materials are difficult to have brought in,” said Smith.

Many of the materials and tools used were brought in from Perth Australia, more than 100 miles away. Master Sgt. George Kruse, of Troy, Ill., went to the local hardware store almost daily to get materials needed to complete the mission as efficiently as possible.

This was a new training experience for many of the Airmen.

“I mainly did demolition of fire alarms and electrical. All we used for that were drills and sawzalls. However, we did have to use a harness for heights that I have never used before, ” said Senior Airman Phillip Gray, of Trenton, Ill., an electrician for the 126th CES.

Some of the members on this DFT had not completed much demolition training. Completing this DFT gave them the chance to work with the equipment that makes demolition possible.

“The overall importance (of this mission) is so the satellite can provide both United States and Australian governments with space tracking capabilities,” said Smith.

The United States will have troops based at Holt Naval Communication Station once the project is finished to operate the satellite and watch over the communications building.

Even with the lack of materials, the 126th CES had no issues completing the assignments given.

“I am really impressed with how fast the work was completed. You guys did a great job,” complemented Smith on the last night before heading home.

As the troops boarded the plane to start the journey home, many discussed the DFT and all the new experiences.

“This DFT is one for the record books,” said Staff Sgt. Rory Biggs, of Troy, Ill., the operations manager of the 126th CES.

 


Tech. Sgt. Mike Maier, of Troy Ill., a member of the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) attached to the 126th Air Refueling Wing, looks at Tech. Sgt. Joe Brakeville, of Alton Ill., and a member of the 126th CES, while they make sure the surveying line is straight and level at Holt Naval Base Western Australia, Aug. 26, 2013. The surveying is part of putting up a new building for project C-Band Radar Pedestal and Structural NCS NE Holt- Western Australia that is being completed by multiple Air National Guard units, including the Illinois Air National Guard. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Elise Stout, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs)

Master Sgt. Jeffery Dornin, of Keysport Ill., and Master Sgt. Randy Frantz, of Troy Ill., both members of the 126th Civil Engineers Squadron, attached to the 126th Air Refueling Wing, prepare to hook up an old air conditioner to a crane to remove it from the roof of a building at Holt Naval Communication Station, Western Australia, Sep. 5, 2013. The air conditioner was being removed as part of Operation C-Band radar pedestal and structural NE NCS Holt-Western Australia where multiple Air National Guard units were completing the mission, including the Illinois Air National Guard. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Elise Stout, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs)

Master Sgt. Randy Frantz, of Troy Ill., and a member of 126th Civil Engineer Squadron attached to the 126th Air Refueling Wing, cuts a hole in a concrete wall to make a door way, while Capt. Allyson Benko, of Fairview Heights, Ill., also a member of the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron, sprays water on it to keep down the dust at Holt Naval Communication Station, Western Australia Aug. 28, 2013. The new door way is part of project C-Band radar and pedestal NCS NE Holt- Western Australia. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Elise Stout, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs)

Members of the 126th Air Refueling Wing stand for a group photo at Holt Naval Communication Station, Western Australia Aug. 24, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Elise Stout, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs)
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