301st Civil Engineers at Silver Flag: Reserve unit recognized for their outstanding work

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephen Bailey
  • 301st Fighter Wing
The 301st Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron made their mark in a Silver Flag Exercise May 24 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in which they reconstructed a bare base deployment area, as well as completing their annual tour training requirement.
More than 37 301st Civil Engineer Squadron team members and officers completed the week-long exercise which combined active duty, guard and reserve to help complete the mission. 

The Silver Flag exercise site is home to the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron. The squadron's 68-person CADRE provides combat support training to active-duty units, the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, Army, Marine Corps and allied nations. More than 5,600 people are trained each year at the site. 

"Civil engineers must complete this training every three years; it's vital to enhancing our skills whether needed at home-station or abroad," said Senior Master Sgt. Bob Gilligan, 301st CES team leader. 

He went to on explain how the exercise prepares the group to fulfill their mission by going into a bare base deployment area and provide the needed organization to execute the required military objective. 

"During the exercise, we were given specific wartime scenarios filled with attacks and chemical warfare situations. Our job is to literally hit the ground running putting together required power supply, water and electrical services, doing site surveys to provide the needed resources at the required times, and supply needed assistance to runway damage control making sure the flying mission can be accomplished," Sergeant Gilligan said. 

During the five and a half-day primary course, civil engineer, services, and Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) personnel learn how to build and maintain bare-base operations at forward-deployed locations. Military members from all the armed services learn to work together to make sure the mission is completed. Course instructors work within the wing operations center providing students with real-world scenarios to see how they hold under pressure. 

More than 97 students were involved in the recent exercise and according to Sergeant Gilligan this time provided great opportunities in sharing experiences. "You had people who had done these activities for many years - a wealth of experience teaching new people in the career field including the officers." 

Many people had book knowledge as to how to get things done, but it's a much different situation when you're out in the field and that's where the experience pays off - we all received the chance to learn valuable information, which in a wartime event will pay huge dividends." 

While at Tyndall, students hone a variety of combat and survival skills, such as repairing bomb-damaged runways, setting up base facilities and disposing of explosive ordnance. Over the years, training has expanded to its current program, which includes force beddown, advanced base recovery after attack, disaster preparedness, fire protection, explosive ordnance disposal, food service and lodging skills, chemical warfare operations and personnel accountability. 

"I'm so proud of our guys and was literally blown away with their professionalism and dedication out in the field. Their hard work and determination made me so proud to be a part of this civil engineer team," said Master Sgt. Chris Bottoms, 301st CES first sergeant. "These guys are the best!" 

Noted for their outstanding work was Tech. Sgt. Mike Mitchell who did an outstanding job with his team and provided good training for those involved. But it was Master Sgt. Richard Nimitz and his team who were recognized by the instructors as an outstanding group. 

According to Sergeant Gilligan, this was the first time Silver Flag has ever recognized a group for their outstanding work and that honor went to the 301st CES. 

According to those involved, this was more than an annual training requirement, it's the CE mission and, it's what they do.