RAF Mildenhall, England --
The 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment shop at RAF Mildenhall, England, performs a critical role in establishing perimeter security and runway access essential for the success of the Bloody Hundredth mission.
Known as “Dirt Boyz,” pavements and construction equipment Airmen use a variety of tools to complete their construction projects, including handheld equipment like shovels, chainsaws, sledgehammers, levels and post hole diggers, while also relying on airfield sweeper vehicles and front-end loaders.
“The main vehicles we use are the sweeper and front-end loader, and that’s what we’re using probably eighty percent of the time,” said Staff Sgt. Rihlen Mital, 100th CES pavements and construction equipment journeyman. “With the sweeper we’re either cleaning the base or we’re cleaning the airfield, and loaders are one of our most versatile vehicles. You can put forks on it, a bucket, you can excavate with it - you can do a lot of things with the loader.”
It’s the tools they use, along with the intensity they display for their work, which enables the “Dirt Boyz” to finish construction projects in all types of weather.
“You work in a lot of brutal conditions, whether it’s heat or cold, wet or dry,” said Airman 1st Class Tyler Miller, 100th CES pavements and construction equipment apprentice. “It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of grit, a lot of determination. You just have to be prepared all day, every day.”
It’s frequently disturbances on the runway which necessitate a response from the “Dirt Boyz." Whether it be a rock on the flight line or a piece of pavement coming loose, small variations can lead to big consequences for transiting aircraft.
“With the refuelers taking off, we have to make sure the runway is free from foreign object debris,” Mital said. “We also have to make sure it’s in good repair.”
The “Dirt Boyz” not only serve an important role in maintaining flight operations through their runway maintenance, but they also preserve the condition of the fencing around base, a vital component of perimeter security.
“Another important responsibility is keeping our perimeter fence intact and making sure there are no holes,” Miller said. “We make sure it’s still standing and serving its purpose.”
The “Dirt Boyz” accomplish whatever construction task is deemed necessary for the sustainment of the mission. They maintain a solid base infrastructure which supports the 100th Air Refueling Wing in projecting agile and responsive global air refueling.
“Whether it be the airfield, fencing, or fixing some sidewalks around base, it’s important for us to do our job correctly the right way and do it on time,” Miller said. “The Dirt Boyz are the foundation of the mission.”