Smooth operators: 460th CES maintains base upkeep

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica Huggins
  • 460th Space Wing, Public Affairs
Maintenance is a constant need in life, especially when it comes to military bases. The streets we drive on, the signs we use for specific designations and the snow we need out of the way to be able to drive safely are just some of the responsibilities of the 460th Civil Engineering Squadron. 

Without their hard work, the basic functions of the base that we take for granted everyday wouldn’t be tended to.

Their main job is to ensure the base is operating normally by maintaining infrastructure and conducting inspections. Base upkeep is a big responsibility for this squadron and requires dedication, teamwork and safety. 

Sometimes, it’s a big job involving concrete pours for sidewalks, said Senior Airman Justin Smith, 460th CES heavy equipment operator. Sometimes, it’s a little job of fixing a sign that got hit by a snowplow. Regardless, all jobs done by CES are equally important to base operation.

“We deal a lot with fixing parts of the base that are destroyed by the elements,” said Smith. “Whether it’s asphalt repair, wear and tear on concrete, we do our best to do the work efficiently and with integrity.”

Smith mentioned that the type of work they are tasked to do depends heavily on the season. For example, the summer involves more sidewalk repair; and the winter involves more snow plowing and pipe repairs.

“Our job is very reactive,” said Mr. Jacob Stahl, 460th CES engineering equipment operator. “We respond to whatever is going wrong and fix it. And that’s just the nature of the beast.”

Regardless of the task, any job in this career field would be too much for just one person.

“We have to spot each other on a lot of jobs,” said Smith. “If you’re operating a piece of heavy equipment, it’s hard to be able to have a visual of the whole situation, so we use hand signals to help each other out.”

A lot of the jobs CES does require more than one person, because they’re big projects and the team needs to be able to assist each other.

“On concrete jobs, for instance, someone pours concrete and someone else is smoothing it out,” said Smith. “It’s a big system and we all have to come together, so teamwork plays a big role.”

The team, consisting of both Airmen and civilian contractors, works hard to maintain their cohesiveness as well as their safety, so no one gets hurt.
When it comes to this job, there are downfalls working with, and sometimes against the elements. 

The mission has to continue and jobs still need to get done even when it’s only five degrees outside in the middle of a snow storm, Smith said. Precautions are taken to ensure that workers are safe, even in the most intense conditions.

Safety precautions are required to combat the possibilities of injuries, he added. Using eye protection, gloves, face guards, steel-toe boots, etc. can help when working with the heavy machinery required to perform certain tasks.

Smith works as one of the safety representatives in his shop, and ensures that proper safety measures are exercised.

“A lot of it is being observant and maintaining awareness around you,” said Smith. “You have to pay attention and look out for your team to make sure nobody is going to get hurt.” 

After a day of hard work, the members of CES can be proud of their progress and the fact that the work was done safely and with integrity.

“Being able to see results, and being able to see where you start and where you finish is amazing,” said Smith. “You see your progression as the days go by. You start with bare ground, nothing, and a week later, you have a finished product. You have a beautiful sidewalk.”

Every day is different than the day before in this squadron, added Stahl.

“Buckley would not function without CE,” said Stahl. “CE is crucial to the base, it is mission critical.”