“Dirt Boys” keep the base running smoothly
By Senior Airman Jessica Blair, 8th Fighter Wing
/ Published August 28, 2020
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea – -- Whether it’s a blanket of snow covering the roads or a crack in the flight line’s concrete, keeping the roadways functional is crucial for the Wolf Pack. Swinging sledge hammers, operating heavy construction vehicles and jack hammering in the elements, the “Dirt Boys”, as they are affectionately known, use their knowledge and skillset to rapidly repair all horizontal infrastructure around the base.
For the members of the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron, they provide many capabilities when maintaining the infrastructure to ensure the Wolf Pack is always running smoothly and mission ready.
“The length of time it takes to repair the flight line depends on the size of the damage,” said Tech. Sgt. Zachary Eyl, 8th CES heavy equipment and pavement shop noncommissioned officer in charge. “What we do is challenging. It’s a lot of hard and physically demanding work but we like working hard. That’s our mentality.”
The heavy construction equipment that the Dirt Boys operate to help maintain the base’s horizontal infrastructure include dozers, hydraulic excavators, snow plows and much more. Besides operating heavy construction equipment, they detonate explosives when maintaining the facilities as well as construct runways and airfields in remote locations.
If there is a deficiency in the airfield’s concrete, such as a crack or pot hole, there is a step-by-step process that the Dirt Boys follow: mark the area off with spray paint, cut it out with a handheld concrete saw, use a jack hammer to break it all apart, vacuum out loose debris to prevent foreign object debris then fill the hole with concrete. Lastly, once the concrete is in place, a curing compound is put in place to help prevent further cracking in the future.
This is just one example of the processes that CE uses to maintain the base’s roadways. The process is done quickly so that flying operations and the mission can resume. Without their continuous maintenance, the runway would eventually fall apart making them a vital entity.
“The most rewarding aspect of our job is just knowing the impact on the mission that we have,” said Eyl. “If we aren’t out there doing our job then the planes can’t fly.”