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The Dirt Boyz are in the trenches

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
As dirt is being kicked up into the air, sounds of heavy machinery fills the air as roads are being graded and crushed concrete is being moved.

Roads are the main traveling source for any vehicle transportation, but when they are rugged, it makes it difficult to travel and reach the intended destination. The 509th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction crew is there to ensure this travel goes as easily as possible, according to Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Fink, 509th CES vehicle control NCO in charge.

Pavement and construction personnel lay down the concrete and asphalt, as well as maintain paved and unpaved roads, ditches, storm drains and fencing. They operate a variety of heavy equipment capable of completing these tasks, according to Master Sgt. Thomas Campbell, 442nd Civil Engineer Squadron heavy repair superintendent

"We use dumps trucks, front end loaders, bobcats and road graders," he said. "We use dump trucks to transport sand, gravel or dirt to fill in ditches or to clear roads. Front end loaders are used for moving aside or loading materials such as asphalt, demolition debris, crushed concrete or dirt into dump trucks. Bobcats are a small rigid frame, engine-powered machine with lift arms used to attach a wide variety of labor-saving tools such as a hydraulic breaker, pallet forks, angle broom, sweeper, and auger. They are capable of zero-radius, "pirouette" turning, which makes them extremely maneuverable and valuable for applications that require a compact, agile loader."

Inclement weather, wear and tear from age, and shoving can cause defects within the roads, interrupting traffic flow according to Tech. Sgt. Jason Jeans, 509th CES pavements and construction equipment supervisor.

"Inclement weather affects roads because snow fills the cracks of the surface and freezes into ice, causing the cracks to expand. Shoving is a process in which a vehicle stops and goes, creating bumps on roads. As a result, this causes damage to a vehicle's tires, bumpers or other parts."

He added that each time a vehicle or heavy equipment is used, it must be inspected to ensure they properly function.

"We inspect the vehicles daily to check engine fluids and wear and tear of the cutting edge," said Jeans. "Engine fluids must be constantly changed to prevent corrosion, resulting in top performance and less wear. We also make sure the vehicle's cutting edges aren't eating into the mold board of the equipment."

Working around heavy equipment means necessary precaution must be taken into account to ensure personnel safety, according to Fink.

"The hazards commonly associated with this career field are vehicle and heavy equipment incidents, falling objects, electrical and ladder injuries," he said. "Many accidents occur from not using the required personnel protective equipment or the misuse of equipment resulting in cuts, loss of or broken limbs. Heavy equipment is highly dangerous if not exercising safety."

Despite the hazards, dedicated personnel work hard every day to ensure Whiteman continues to operate as smoothly as possible.

"I like the fulfillment I get from doing my job," said Fink. "When I see people driving on the roads we worked on, it makes me proud to see our contribution in the Whiteman mission."