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Army engineers survey 'Last Frontier,' keep Air Force fighters flying safely

September 20, 2012

By 1st Lt. J.C. Wright, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Surveyors from the 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, recently traveled to Alaska to help keep multimillion-dollar Air Force fighter jets and cargo planes based, here, flying safely.

Soldiers from the Technical Headquarters Section, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and the 142nd Survey and Design Detachment -- both of the 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Bde. -- surveyed two runways and more than 50 obstructions in support of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, airfield study, which certified the Elmendorf airfield, here, safe to operate.

Throughout this mission, normally reserved for contractors who specialize in airfield surveys, Sgt. 1st Class Dwight Hart, technical engineer, THS, HHC, 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., said the team excelled and accomplished its tasks within a tight schedule. The team's efforts earned it deserved praise from the NGA.

"I've been an Army surveyor for over 13 years and surveyed more than seven Army airfields," Hart said. "I must say that this is the most extensive training that I've ever received from any one mission. We were very fortunate to have two civilians from NGA to train and mentor the team."

One mission involved reaching remote airfields throughout Alaska -- desolate areas where few people ever have access.

Soldiers traveled by C-12 aircraft to long-range radar sites, or LRRS, located along the western coast and interior of the state, known as "the Last Frontier." Soldiers completed one LRRS in as little as two days, a job that normally can take up to three days, and they properly surveyed the airfield.

"The missions to the LRRSs were an experience I'll never forget," said Spc. Daniel Nunez, technical engineer, THS, HHC, 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

"As a team, we were able to get a good system set in place to work efficiently and effectively," Nunez said. "I was able to see what it takes to survey an airfield from start to finish and the proper procedures that go with these types of precision surveys."

"The on-the-job training that I was able to receive was more valuable than any training I've had in the past," Nunez said.

"I wasn't sure what to expect because I haven't spent much time doing airfield surveys, other than what we do during Sergeants Time Training," said Spc. Richard Ohman, technical engineer, THS, HHC, 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. But nothing compares to on-the-job experience."

"When we arrived, we hit the ground running, and my knowledge of airfield surveys has increased greatly.

"At this point, I can say with confidence that I can go out and survey any airfield with no issues," said Ohman. "Overall, this trip has been a wonderful experience, and I wouldn't trade it for the world."

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