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Reserve AES unit moves into new home

Renovated building on McChord Field gives squadron more room

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody

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(446th AW PA) - Imagine working in a building with no air conditioning, a leaky roof, cracked walls, a poor telecommunications system and no storage space for vital equipment. Add 150 people into a space designed for half that number and you'll get a glimpse into the workspace Reservists from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron have endured for more than three decades.

"The original building for AES was designed for a smaller squadron and almost the day they broke ground in the early 1980s, Air Mobility Command doubled the size of our squadron," said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wilds, 446th AES superintendent. "We've always been crowded as a result."

Lt. Col. Kenneth Winslow, 446th AES director of operations, said the squadron has been working from McChord Field's alternate command post building for the past two and a half years while their regular structure (Bldg. 1210) was being renovated.

AES Reservists moved into their restored facility on McChord July 30, designed with their specific needs in mind.

"The upside for us is more room in the new facility," said Winslow. "The new building has some additions, including a learning lab with all the necessary computer drops for Advanced Distributed Learning Service and Computer-Based Training. Now that we've gone up to 150 people, getting ADLS training done over a Unit Training Assembly weekend won't involve people competing for training space. That's going to be a huge advantage."

The recent renovation included the installation of a modern telecommunications and Internet system for the squadron's Reservists.

"When they built our old facility, the design was based on late 1970s or early 1980s requirements and (then) we only had one computer that was used to cut flight orders," said Wilds, who is also a Tacoma firefighter in his civilian job. "Now, 90 percent of what we do involves CBTs. We are constantly inundated with new critical items and every time we get a new piece of equipment we have to be trained on it. If you're not trained on it, you don't fly. We're a flying medevac unit and effectively using CBTs is critical to how we maintain our mission readiness."

Coupled with increased office, conference room and training space, the 446th AES also gained a new equipment warehouse as a bonus.

"Over the years, our technology and equipment have changed and we had no storage space of our own," said Wilds. "Our last storage space was about an eighth of the size for what we needed and our equipment was stacked floor to ceiling. This new structure is nice because it allows us to readily get our gear out. The new structure provides storage for all of our in-flight AE kits, which are all War Readiness Material equipment. If they call us, we can leave in an hour," he added.

Despite all the inconvenience moving into temporary, smaller workspace two and a half years ago, Reservists from the 446th AES haven't missed a beat while delivering continuous mission support.

"We have not slowed down while preparing for the September Operational Readiness Exercise and the October Operational Readiness Inspection either," said Wilds. "A large portion of our squadron is currently deployed to Afghanistan and we've been preparing for OREs, ORIs and exercises the whole time we've been moving out or moving in."

The long wait is almost over now that the 446th AES will relocate to their "remodeled home."

"This has been a group effort with great support from the 446th Airlift Wing, the 446th Operations Group and of course the contractors and engineers who all helped work on the building," said Wilds.

Photo: Reservists from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron prepare to return to their remodeled offices on McChord Field. For more than three decades, the AES has worked in their original office space designed for half their squadron’s size.

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