Alaska Air Guardsmen Deploy Down Under: Thirty-four citizen-Airmen to help build a radar facility in remote Western Australia

  • Published
  • By Capt. John Callahan
  • 176 WG
Thirty-four members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing arrived at this remote military base on the western tip of Australia May 2 to get on-the-job training in a variety of real-world construction projects.

All but three of the deployers are members of the wing's 176th Civil Engineer Squadron. They comprise a mix of apprentices, journeymen and highly skilled craftsmen in such trades as construction, electrical work, civil engineering, earthmoving and power production. They will be in Australia for about three weeks assisting in the completion of a military radar station and a range of smaller projects.

The mission is led by Lt. Col. Jack Evans, who took command of the squadron in April.

"I'm excited and humbled to lead this incredibly talented group of Air Guardsmen," Evans said. "Most of these men and women are 'traditional' Guard members -- that is, they work and train with the Guard one weekend a month, and about 15 or so other days throughout the year. The rest of the time they are out in the community, working at their jobs alongside everyone else. Many of them have the same jobs as civilians that they do in the Guard, and so of course are bringing an amazing wealth of talent and experience to this mission."

The 176th Civil Engineer Squadron routinely takes its members around the world for these types of short training deployments. In recent years, squadron members have built a schoolhouse in Ecuador, remodeled aircraft hangars in Hawaii, renovated a Navy SEAL mountain warfare center near California's Mexican border, repaired housing at a Coast Guard air station in Puerto Rico, expanded a training facility on California's remote San Clemente Island and built dormitories in Israel.

The Air Force and Air Reserve Components maintain civil engineer squadrons because the nature of air operations requires bases and landing fields from which to operate. Squadron members are trained in the wide range of career fields needed to quickly build a functioning airfield.