When Jack Frost comes knocking, CE knocks back

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Come sleet, snow and ice, or whatever the environment can throw at the northernmost U.S. air base in Japan, a crew of civil engineer jacks-of-all-trades are ready to keep the mission moving.

Airmen from the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron band together with Airmen of the pavements and heavy-equipment shop to remove snow from roads and the flightline, to ensure Misawa Air Base's goes unhindered.

"If we weren't here to remove the snow, the planes wouldn't be able to fly," said Staff Sgt. Adrian Wilson, a 35th CES pavements and heavy equipment operator. "The base would probably also be closed because no one would be able to get to work."

The PHE Shop monitors and clears 76 square miles of roads and taxiways using 119 different pieces of equipment ranging from large rollover plows to small Bobcat tractors.

Last year, the shop hauled 7,000 truckloads, totaling 70,000 tons of snow during the season.

"This year we're expecting 125 to 240 inches of snow," Sergeant Wilson said. "We would have been hard pressed to clear last year's snow, or this year's expected amounts, without the help of our fellow augmentors."

PHE engineers call upon the other shops in CES, such as heating/ventilation and air conditioning and structures for extra help during the season.

"Being able to help the snow removal crew is a great opportunity," said Airman Ronald Volner, a 35th CES structural apprentice. "It lets me get out of the shop and learn a different skill set. Working with P&HE allows me to drive different vehicles and use different tools that I don't normally get to use or see in the structures shop."

Some of the equipment used for snow removal is complicated to use, but the PHE Airmen train the augmentors, Airman Volner added.

"I'm very proud of the Airmen I have working for me," Sergeant Wilson said. "CES has some of the best Airmen. Our augmentors are fast learners, and I can count on anyone of them to get the job done."