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By Tech. Sgt. Victoria Nelson,
157th Air Refueling Wing
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan - After two weeks of early mornings on the flight line, throughout the installation, and inside the fire training site, more than 50 Airmen in the 157th Civil Engineer Squadron boarded a New Hampshire KC-46 and departed Misawa Air Base.
The Airmen from the 157th split into two groups to assist on projects at Yokota and Misawa Air Bases in Japan May 3-20. Each shop complemented its active-duty counterparts and integrated all training tasks.
“You couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Maj. Jereme Henrard, operations flight commander for the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron at Misawa AB. “Your help was crucial in many shops where we have Airmen deployed, and having you here to help offset their absence has been phenomenal.”
The engineers executed more than 4,000 hours of training and over 800 tasks in two weeks.
“Misawa and Yokota have offered unparalleled, cost-effective, realistic training,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Lewis, the prime base engineer emergency force manager for the 157th CES. “Notably, our Airmen were able to practice using systems we don’t have at Pease (Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire) — really hone their skills on variations of equipment, and train in all types of environments.”
Airmen supported multiple aircraft arresting systems for F-16 Falcons, F-35 Lighting II, F-18 Hornets and other transient aircraft. They donned chemical protective gear for annual training, repaired high voltage power lines, built 200 feet of concrete sidewalk, and utilized the structural live burn site, including a multistory training facility and live fire fuselage trainers.
“I learned a lot from the active-duty guys here and how different everything is compared to Pease,” said Airman Brian Sullivan, an HVAC specialist with the 157th CES.
This was Sullivan’s first temporary assignment away from Pease. He installed an HVAC system with a team from the 35th CES and supported preventative maintenance projects.
“It was definitely a cool experience,” he added. “Everyone was welcoming, and I really enjoyed my time here.”
Both bases also leveraged multilayered training with military and civilian employees. Airmen received hands-on experiences with new equipment and trained other engineers within their specialties. Many Airmen brought knowledge from their civilian careers and built on the expertise of the active-duty shop.
“Learning about how we all contribute to the big picture mission is a huge piece to making it happen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Kehl, the 35th CES fire chief. “We have been stoked to have you here and we’ve learned a lot from each other. This is just the start of an enduring relationship.”
Supporting both bases day in and out, the 157th CES learned about the key role the Pacific Air Forces Command plays in the Air Force’s mission to provide global vigilance, reach and power, and how each Airman contributes to the mission’s success.
“These two weeks have been just the first efforts of acclimating Airmen to the Pacific theater of operations,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Behney, the 157th CES commander. “It’s a full immersion of Air National Guard engineers into active-duty sections and building multinational partnerships across the area of responsibility.”
“All of the Airmen embraced the core ethos of lean, effective, adaptive, dynamic, war-fighting engineers,” he added. “They showed what a seamless total force integration looks like and what we can accomplish together.”