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    Repairing North America’s second longest runway

    Repairing North America’s second longest runway

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Carson Jeney | U.S. Airmen and personnel assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron pose for a...... read more read more



    Story by Airman Carson Jeney 

    354th Fighter Wing

    EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – As the second longest runway in North America that operates year-round even in subarctic conditions, Eielson Air Force Base’s 14,507 feet long runway requires regular maintenance to ensure mission-readiness at all times.

    The 354th Civil Engineer Squadron’s “Dirt Boyz” and the 354th Contracting Squadron completed a month-long project to repair Eielson’s runway, July 30, 2023.

    “During the runway closure, we had 14 members accomplish the two full depth slab replacements on the runway and two full depth slabs on taxiway Romeo and Sierra,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Chaiya Thamvongsa, 354th CES pavements and construction supervisor, who led the four full-depth slab replacements of degraded concrete.

    The “Dirt Boyz” utilized their diverse skill set by working on various components of the runway.

    “While the slab replacements were happening, we had eight members replacing the Precision Approach Path Indicator lights, two members assisting Radar, Airfield, & Weather Systems in repairing the Instrument Landing System, and a team of nine members replacing failed concrete slab joint sealant during the closure,” said Thamvongsa. “Additionally, we had two teams of contractors working on regrooving the surfaces of the runway and painting runway and taxiway markings.”

    As the contracting administrator in charge of the project, 354th Contracting Squadron’s Senior Airman Christopher Blackburn primarily coordinated most meetings and site visits with the contractors. Meeting the project deadline was his biggest concern and priority.

    “The biggest challenge was trusting the contractor’s judgment to maintain the tight deadline as well as the daily site visits to the flightline as they were in control of their own work schedule and the equipment itself worked at a snail’s pace,” said Blackburn. “I feel relieved that the work finished on time so as not to impact the Wing’s mission.”

    Due to its strategic location, ensuring Eielson’s runway is always operational is vital to its mission of deploying lethal fifth-generation combat airpower, training advanced airpower operations and projecting strategic airpower.

    “Crucial airfield repairs during the short summer months allow for a continued global mission at Eielson, even during the harsh winters,” said Thamvongsa. “By maintaining operational readiness of the runway, we inherently enable multi-national forces and joint operations throughout RED FLAG-Alaska & Northern Edge exercises. This gives our pilots the necessary training to counter our adversaries.”

    Projects such as this are a great learning experience for new members of the “Dirt Boyz”. Senior Airman Maison Lyle, 354th CES pavements and equipment journeyman, was one of the many Airmen who worked on various components repairing the concrete slabs.

    “In the shop we have several NCO’s that have completed bigger projects like this in the past,” said Lyle. “The Airmen were able to learn from them and put that knowledge into practice.”

    Lyle and everyone who worked on this project feel a sense of accomplishment knowing they played an important role in ensuring Eielson can execute its mission.

    “At the end of the day we get to look back at what we did and say ‘this could be around for another 50 years or more.’ said Lyle. “We all get to feel accomplished and it's all thanks to the teamwork of our shop.”


    Date Taken: 08.04.2023
    Date Posted: 08.04.2023 15:58
    Story ID: 450738

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