JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
For more than 75 years, civil engineers have provided the foundation for the lethality and readiness of airpower. From bedding down new missions and modernizing infrastructure to protecting natural resources and emergency management, engineers help the Air Force deliver on its promise to the nation.
Today, civil engineers across the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center focus on a wide variety of installation and mission support needs that are vital to keeping the Air Force in flight for another 75 years and beyond.
Together, they put roofs over the heads of Airmen and Guardians, build and maintain installations, and protect families and assets.
Maj. Harrizon Sanchez is a member of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Facility Engineering Directorate at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and helps execute military construction and facility sustainment, restoration and modernization programs, or FSRM.
The deputy director of the FSRM execution branch is taking the lead in the coming days to manage a $281 million runway construction effort on Ascension Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean and critical to the Department of Defense mission. The work ensures the strategically important island can support U.S. and partner nation missions for many years to come.
During a previous deployment to Jordan, his electrical engineering expertise proved essential when Sanchez traveled around the area of responsibility to perform electrical work and safety checks to make sure everything was up to code and American troops were protected.
Engineers in the facility engineering directorate also partner with AFIMSC’s Detachment 4, on the other side of the globe, for military construction and FSRM execution in Europe, where Ned Harshbarger is a program manager for the European Deterrence Initiative. The DOD initiative includes the construction of airfield infrastructure and the supporting facilities necessary to sustain readiness for the Air Force’s combat operations in Europe.
Harshbarger currently manages the design and construction of all EDI Deployable Air Base System Facility projects to allow the Air Force to store and stage war reserve material assets throughout Europe.
“It is a great motivation to know that I am making a difference in the readiness of the military,” Harshbarger said. “With current events and never knowing what could happen, I know I have assisted in the military’s readiness to fight future conflicts that I hope never happen.”
At AFIMSC headquarters in San Antonio, engineers with the Installation Support Directorate serve as the integrators with AFCEC and AFIMSC detachments to provide installation commanders across the Department of the Air Force with effective engineering support.
Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Field, the superintendent of FSRM and modernization analysis, is currently overseeing the FSRM Base Maintenance Contract Cost Control Plan for the enterprise. The effort supports 27 installations with a goal to reduce a $70 million labor cost overage across the department.
“Cost savings gained from this initiative will provide the necessary resources to sustain a lethal and ready force,” Field said.
The work of Tech. Sgt. Lee Garner at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, with AFCEC’s Operations Directorate also directly impacts many installations across the force.
The NCO in charge of the Aircraft Arresting System Depot brings a wealth of mechanical and electrical technology experience to support the depot’s mission of asset and infrastructure visibility, operations maintenance, technical support, inspection and repairs, and force development.
In his current position, the industrial power production craftsman provides arrestment capabilities for tailhook-equipped aircraft across the Air Force enterprise and for partner nations. Together with his team, they prevent an aircraft from crashing after an in-flight emergency has occurred.
“Fulfilling the requirements for Mobile Aircraft Arresting Systems overhauls has been the most rewarding to me in my career as I get to see the fruits of my labor firsthand,” Garner said.
When an installation closes, engineers at AFIMSC stay engaged, prioritizing environmental stewardship by reducing environmental liabilities and resolving issues. Their work allows active installations to remain mission-focused and closed installations to be successfully transferred to civilian communities.
In his role as a Base Realignment and Closure project manager with AFCEC’s Installations Directorate, Steven Willis oversees environmental remediation that must take place before the Air Force can transfer the property of former installations back to the local community for redevelopment and reuse.
Willis, who enjoys all kinds of projects, leads cleanup activities at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan. AFCEC’s ongoing activities include groundwater treatment, a vapor intrusion study and a Military Munitions Response Program.
The engineer also supports decisions on environmental considerations critical to the Air Force’s new weapons systems acquisitions and new basing requirements.
“There is never a boring day when you deal with environmental issues,” Willis said.
No matter the engineering specialty, Air Force CEs are a close group whose members take pride in the work they accomplish while enjoying the challenges that come with their chosen profession.
“Being able to say we built that hangar, paved that road or managed the renovation of that child development center gives me a sense of huge accomplishment and pride in the important work we do for the Air Force mission,” Sanchez said.
“I take much pride in the work I do every day and ensuring others can see the quality and craftsmanship my team and I put into our work motivates me to continue to do my best,” Garner said.
“Throughout my 24-year career in civil engineering, the community, no matter what level has been supported, has taken care of one another during both good and bad times,” Field said.