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    Celebrating women's empowerment

    Celebrating women's history

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jerome Grant | Air Force Lt. Col. Grace Link leads the 474th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron,...... read more read more

    GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Joint Task Force Guantanamo honors educated and empowered female leadership of the Prime Base Engineering Emergency Force, (Prime BEEF), 474th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron (474th ECES), Missouri Air Guard by highlighting the achievements, contributions and sacrifices each of them make to educate the world while deployed.

    The theme for Women’s History Month 2012 is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment. Although women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, the reversal of the gender gap is a very recent phenomenon. In our country, the fight to learn and be empowered in their positions was a valiant struggle waged by many tenacious women across years and cultures.

    United States Air Force Lt. Col. Grace Link, Prime BEEF commanding officer and base Civil Engineer spoke about being in the military and a role model for women of all ages.

    “My heritage is Mexican. My parents came to the United States when I was a year old,” said Link. “We moved to Chicago and I went to school and joined the Illinois Air National Guard in 1987.”

    Shortly after enlisting, Link attended a supply enlisted tech school at Lowry Air Force Base where she met her husband, Scott Link, who was also in the Air Guard.

    Link was enlisted for six years before she graduated from Oklahoma State University, earning a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. She received her commission in 1994, furthering her desire to make a difference. Diversity acceptance in the military and the civil engineering career field has allowed Link and her command to focus on the mission and less on the gender of the leader.

    “One of my most challenging times as a leader involved getting more than 100 people in the squadron all working together towards a common goal. Establishing teamwork is not always easy to do,” said Link. “It is always extremely rewarding to watch our airmen succeed and become the best that they can be!”

    Link and a team of 38 deployed to JTF Guantanamo in January 2012 and were assigned to the Prime BEEF.

    “Our primary mission at the Prime BEEF is all of the facilities maintenance repair and construction associated with the Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC) and Camp Justice,” said Link. “We are here to take care of any facility issues that are going to go on during court sessions for commissions or anything going on with the Camp Justice side of the house.”

    JTF Guantanamo supports many aspects of ongoing military commissions, such as lodging tents for media members, observer organizations, defense and prosecution members as well as transient personnel.

    Link has been a civil engineer in the Air Guard for 25 years. Her experiences in many areas all over the world have allowed her to design, construct and maintain the physical and naturally built environment of each area visited.

    “Our command usually plans and prepares for natural disasters,” said Link. “We are able to construct roads, bridges, buildings and other structures necessary to sustain an airfield and/or Wing.”

    In the summer of 2011, Link and members of 474th ECES, and 139th Airlift Wing prepared the town of St. Joseph, Mo., and surrounding communities for a planned flooding by United States Army Corps of Engineers. As a full-time federal employee, one of the advantages of a civil engineering command is the ability for a Guard officer to serve as a dual-status commander; maintaining command over both Air Guard personnel and federal military units that may also respond to an emergency or disaster situation occurring within the state.

    The level of expertise present with the Prime BEEF team can be broken down into several sub-disciplines, such as structural engineering, water resources engineering, construction engineering and municipal or urban engineering.

    “Prior to our arrival to Guantanamo, we were planning for the town evacuation,” Link said about the planned flooding and level of training she and her team have on large projects. “Setting the standards for members not being okay with being average and striving to be outstanding is my job as their commander to help them get there.”

    The projects currently in the queue for the Prime BEEF include maintenance and new construction of existing facility structures, electrical and plumbing needs. Previous Prime BEEF teams have started projects, and incoming Prime BEEF teams are able to complete the work seamlessly.

    Senior Master Sgt. Debra Rush manages areas of Prime BEEF in supply, structures, engineering, work control and pavements/heavy equipment.

    “I bring a diversity of experiences to civil engineering,” said Rush. “I have been in this field since 2006, but I have knowledge from prior career fields of personnel, maintenance, and contracting. I believe this diversity helps with my leadership.”

    In order to move up the career ladder, Rush explained that sometimes you may have to be willing to change career paths.
    Rush is a full time production controller for the Missouri Air National Guard. Because of her education and experience, she was able to move into a new career field and full-time job.

    “This has been a challenging deployment for me,” said Rush. “I feel very fortunate to have my husband in my life. It would be very hard to deploy without his support. I know my family is very proud of what I do.”

    Rush commented that nobody in her immediate family is in the military; she joined for the patriotism and for the travel experience. She has been in the Missouri Air Guard for almost 19 years and 12 of those she has been on active status.

    “My goals for this deployment is to improve my leadership role, become more physically fit, and have a closer relationship with God,” she said.

    Since 1987, the United States has recognized women’s history in March, honoring the achievements of American women during the celebration coordinated by the National Women’s History Project.

    For too long women’s history and achievements have been forgotten, overlooked, erased and devalued. The celebration of women’s achievements and sacrifices helps educate and empower women of all ages through their experiences.

    Mission Focused:

    The Prime BEEF team members all have extensive experience in civil engineering which supports their missions for Joint Task Force Guantanamo. The team is made up of very highly motivated, dedicated, knowledgeable professionals of which commander Air Force Lt. Col. Grace Link is proud to be a part of.

    “Emergency response personnel from 474th ECES were called upon to assist during the floods in the Missouri area,” said Link. “Emergency response and the fire departments fall under us; this also supports our ability to provide as much service to a disaster area as possible.”

    This area of civil engineering is intimately related to the design of pipelines, water supply network, drainage facilities (including bridges, dams, channels, culverts, levees, storm sewers), and canals.

    “The role the Air Guard is playing today is much different than it was many years ago,” said Link. “It’s amazing what you do and the level of experienced personnel performing these missions.”



    Date Taken: 03.22.2012
    Date Posted: 03.22.2012 17:32
    Story ID: 85628
    Location: GUANTANAMO BAY, CU 
    Hometown: ST. JOSEPH, MO, US

    Web Views: 470
    Downloads: 0