627th CES forges multi-capable Airmen with vehicle rodeo

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Callie Norton
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the sun rose over Mount Rainier, Airmen with the 627th Civil Engineer Squadron fired up their engines in the crisp October air to warm up for the vehicle rodeo.

As a squadron consisting of a variety of career specialties, some civil engineers have never touched heavy equipment before, but by the end of the rodeo on Oct. 12, 2023, they will be licensed to operate compact track loaders, backhoes, front end loaders, dump trucks, all terrain forklifts and street sweepers on base.

“The goal today is to get everyone licensed, so when we go down range and we’re asked to operate equipment we don’t operate all the time, we have some stick time and some experience,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam Overbay, prime base expeditionary engineer force with the 627th CES.

Known as a jack-of-all-trades in the Air Force, civil engineers are subject to various tasks that require complex problem solving, like keeping base facilities and utilities running smoothly.

“I’m a plumber by trade, but when I deployed, I didn’t do any plumbing,” said Overbay. “I operated all this equipment as a young Airman, so we’re trying to set up our guys to have some of that experience before going out the door.”

In a real-world environment, another Air Force specialty code may need to step in and assist with rapid airfield damage repair, where heavy machinery is required to recover damaged airfields.

“Once you start learning equipment, it’s easier to learn a new piece of equipment,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Brooks, unit deployment manager with the 627th CES. “Comfortability comes from learning how to be aware, watch your spotter, be safe, then work on your speed and efficiency.”

As the Air Force continues to move through the Air Force Force Generation model, a 24-month deployment readiness cycle, Airmen will be pushed to great lengths and challenged beyond the status quo.

“In line with the AFFORGEN deployment cycle, our goal is to reset everyone,” said Overbay. “Everyone will have a baseline, so we can project when we need to complete this again to maintain readiness in each phase.”