Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

April 14, 2016 at 8:27am

446th airmen go north

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Frigid temperatures, freezing rain and strong winds can turn a simple repair job exponentially challenging. But two McChord reservists have taken up the challenge.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Buel and Staff Sgt. Ryan Seibold, both assigned to the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron, left McChord Field March 26 to set up camp in Kodiak, Alaska, in support of Arctic Care 2016.

Arctic Care is an annual two-week operation in remote areas of Alaska. It provides free medical, dental, vision and veterinary care, and is the largest recurring joint military medical and logistics training exercise today.

This year, U.S. and Canadian military members will be providing services to the several communities on Kodiak Island, where resources are limited and spare parts can be difficult to come by.

"We have the opportunity to provide generators, electrical distribution, lighting and heating to sustain the deployed personnel," said Lt. Col. Andrew Lafrazia, 446th CES commander.

One of the key missions of civil engineers is to provide support and sustainment anywhere in the world, and real-world exercises provide an invaluable training environment.

"When we first arrived, we had to set up numerous tents, environmental control units and generators," said Buel, a water and fuel systems technician. "After everything was set up and connected, one of the generators wouldn't work."

Buel discovered water had seeped into one of the cables causing a short, which prevented power from being supplied to the tents and ECUs. Since the inclement weather was impeding efforts, the repair job on the generator took about eight hours, said Buel. He didn't have a replacement cable so he had to repair the damaged one.

The repair job allowed tents to be living quarters for those who will be providing medical services to the local communities.

"Participation in Arctic Care is an outstanding opportunity for civil engineer personnel to ply their craft in a real-world environment," said Lafrazia. "While we can provide outstanding training at our tech schools and home station, the actual execution of operations will provide many challenges and experiences that build a base of incredible experience for our airmen."

Arctic Care resembles the type of cooperative effort necessary in an international crisis and prepares hundreds of servicemembers for future humanitarian or disaster relief missions.

"It's been a great experience working with military members of other services," said Seibold, an electrician. "I am also looking forward to getting out and assisting those in the remote villages."

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