CES Reservists train at Silver Flag

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Patrick Cabellon
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Twenty-eight Airmen from the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron expanded their wartime skills in Florida Jan. 6-11 while participating in the exercise Silver Flag at Tyndall Air Force Base. 

Silver Flag is a wartime training scenario hosted by Detachment 1, 823rd "Red Horse" Civil Engineer Squadron. The training is a mix of classroom studying, hands-on training and a 24 hour wartime scenario to train Airmen on the newest equipment and techniques used in the field. 

"We learn how to build and maintain bare-base operations," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Pizzi, the chief of operations, 446th CES. "We get to use equipment we don't have here at McChord." 

Specialists for utility, structure, heavy equipment, firefighting, liquid fuels, environmental, power production and engineering assistance all took part in the six-day exercise. 

During the scenario they construct facilities, such as for troop support, and provide for, base recovery after attack disaster preparedness, fire protection, explosive ordnance disposal and chemical warfare operations. 

"It's helpful because we get to practice our wartime function," said Master Sgt. Rod Keister, NCO in charge mobility, heavy equipment craftsmen, 446th CES. 

Other Airmen will found themselves repairing the airfield, fixing facilities and maintaining utilities, Sergeant Keister explained. 

"We're like a big time construction company that can deploy world wide," said Sergeant Keister. 

Wartime duties for civil engineer Airmen run the gamut from firefighting to fixing runways. 

Firefighters douse fires when a building, aircraft or vehicle is in flames. They also assist with search and rescue operations. 

"We help the airman exit the aircraft and reset the barrier (intrusion system) for the next aircraft to land," said Staff Sgt. Mike Thompson a firefighter apprentice, 446th CES. 

The barrier intrusion system is a wire that spans the runway so when a fighter jet lands a hook attached to the aircraft catches on the wire and helps the aircraft stop faster.

"We make sure to get water to the laundry, chow hall and hospitals," said Tech Sgt. Douglas Seekins, a utilities craftsman, 446th CES. 

"One cool thing we have is the reverse osmosis water purification unit," Chief Pizzi said. "It's able to purify 600 gallons of water per hour. It can run 20 continuous hours before it requires maintenance. If you have a way to store it you can keep making it. It goes in looking like mud, comes out looking like glass." 

Another duty Airmen fulfill is to drive along the airfield looking for unexploded ordnances, craters, plot the extent of the damage and make repair suggestions. They also provide rapid runway repair that uses fiberglass to fix portions of the runway. 

"This (Silver Flag) is a great opportunity to get hands-on training with real world equipment," said Maj. Chris Buzo, operations flight chief, 446th CES. "The concepts for individual wartime situations have evolved and equipment has been upgraded. We trained on how to use both equipment and concepts together so when we do deploy we can be productive." 

"Last time we went as a large group was July 2004," said Chief Pizzi. "About 170 Airmen from active, Reserve and Guard were there this time." 

The Silver Flag training grounds sits on 1,200 acres and has a 6,000 foot runway. Tyndall AFB, Fla. hosts Silver Flag two to three times each year.