A marble monument was unveiled during a dedication in February 2004 that officially named the Air Force compound to Camp Cunningham, in memory of Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham. Airman Cunningham was a pararescueman killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom.
By late 2004, with coalition forces stationed throughout Afghanistan, logistical support is one of the most important factors in supporting the fight against terrorism. While there is more than one way to push the necessary supplies to remote forward operating bases, the Marines of Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 769 used their CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters to keep everything moving.
By early 2005 concrete was set in preparation for new buildings and storage areas at the Air Force sector where gravel was once the material of choice. At Camp Cunningham civil engineers worked on plans to accommodate about 35 more Airmen on the same 106,000 square feet of land. Months before the first of the Airmen entered Camp Cunningham's gates, civil engineers worked on plans to construct the additional 24 wooden huts needed to provide working spaces and living quarters for the arriving Airmen.
Getting the huts constructed was not the challenge. It was coordinating the camp power upgrade with Army and Bagram contractors. Also, to make room for the new facilities, the Airmen got rid of 9,000 tons of dirt, cloth and wire structures that made up the camp's security walls. The different civil engineer functions had to assist other shops to meet deadlines and accomplish the mission.
As office spaces were created, communications technicians connected and buried about 15,000 feet of electrical, telephone and computer network lines, and broadcast cables for 13 new facilities. Although burying their work under the packed, rocky dirt initially meant more work for the 455th Expeditionary Communications Flight Airmen, the team chose to dig in because going subterranean will make maintenance easier by increasing the reliability and survivability of the cable, said Capt. Ernie Baldree, the flight's chief.
A March 15, 2005 AFPN story reported that Bagram's 9,800-foot runway would undergo major repairs beginning at the end of that month to maintain operations in and out of the busiest airfield in Afghanistan. The work was to be completed by Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron who expected the work to take 16 weeks to complete with 28 shattered slabs of concrete to be replaced using precast concrete -- concrete poured and cured in an alternate location, away from the runway, and put into place when ready; a runway repair method last used by the Air Force in the 1970s. The need for the repair method arose because of mission requirements, which dictated that the runway could not be shut down for an extended period of time. Each slab is 12-feet long, 13-feet wide and one-foot deep, weighing about 23,400 pounds.
The plan called for the damaged concrete on the runway to be removed just before placing the new slabs. A flat-bed truck would then bring the slabs to the flightline, where a 120-ton crane would lift and position them into place. The runway would become useable once again once the the slabs are sealed. 13 shattered slabs were reported to be at the south end of the runway, another 13 in the middle and north end of the runway and the final two slabs located toward the north end of the runway. In addition to the replacement of the slabs, engineers were to also repair other major runway cracks and seal joints.
The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Civil Engineers were busy since they landed. From facility upgrades to pouring concrete, these civil engineers have done a tremendous amount of work in just a few short weeks.
In order to conduct safe flying operations in bad weather conditions or emergencies, the Marine squadron has some specific requirements that are not normally found at Air Force airfields, such as an operational mobile aircraft arresting system.
A mobile aircraft arresting system is basically a hydraulically activated set of two modified B-52 brakes designed to stop fighter aircraft equipped with a tail-hook during in-flight emergencies and periods of inclement weather such as rain or strong cross-winds."
There is a lot of room on this runway for pilots to land safely, but just in case, Marine pilots are well qualified to take arrested landings. The mobile aircraft arresting system is simply a precautionary measure that is available should it be needed to stop a 40-50,000 pound jet quickly or in the event of emergency.
The airfield Fire Department operated by Kellogg Brown and Root performs invaluable aircraft egress, and barrier rewind operations, however, the overall maintenance and certification responsibilities lie with the Barrier Maintenance, Electrical and Power Production shop.
On May 22, 2007 Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing voluntered their spare time to help clean up an area of Camp Cunningham here in order to make room for a living condition upgrade. Camp Cunningham Airmen resided in B-Huts, which have lasted beyond their original expectancy, and plan to relocate the B-Huts to a cleared off area of the camp to make way for sturdier relocatable buildings. While the displaced Airmen may experience a few growing pains or inconveniences, this project was aimed at the long-term improvement of Airmen's living conditions while stationed here.
On December 8, 2007 Airmen at Camp Cunningham tried to capture a little bit of the holiday season amidst the snow-capped peaks of Afghanistan and thousands of miles from home. A switch was pulled illuminating a 30-foot wreath and 1,200 feet of holiday lights draped across the control tower in Camp Cunningham.
The project was organized by Chief Master Sgt. Donald Sibble, the Camp Cunningham mayor, and weeks of volunteer efforts by dozens of Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, the 1st Expeditionary REDHORSE Squadron. Several private organizations and Airmen Committed to Excellence contributed to the holiday lights. Following the lighting of the tower, Airmen celebrated by singing holiday carols and sharing each other's company over cups of hot chocolate in the winter temperatures.
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