EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
When the snow starts to blow, residents of Eielson Air Force Base anticipate the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron will ensure the roads are safe to drive on. But what happens when the snow blowers, plows and graders break?
The Airmen with the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron heavy shop are the Icemen behind the scenes; fixing all the snow equipment that breaks during the brutal winters.
“It’s hectic during the winter,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Sommerfeldt, a 354th LRS vehicle maintenance technician.
Sommerfeldt said during the summer, the shop conducts summer re-builds, which has a strict schedule of tasks needing to get before the winter strikes.
“With summer re-build, we do preventative maintenance,” said Senior Airman Dakota Greenwade, a 354th LRS vehicle maintenance technician. “But it gets chaotic during the winter because you never know what is going to break.”
The heavy shop generally tries to fix things on the spot when they break, but that can’t always be accomplished.
“The turn-around for a repair typically takes a day or two,” said Greenwade. “But when more complicated things break, it may take longer.”
During the winter months, the vehicle maintenance shop adds a second shift to ensure they have coverage at any time a vehicle might break.
“The planes can’t take off if the runway isn’t cleared,” said Greenwade. “When all of the equipment is broken, we step in to ensure the mission is never impeded.”
The vehicle maintenance Airmen never know what the next challenge is going to be during the snowy winter months in the Last Frontier, but they are always prepared for the task.