52nd CES volunteers answer call to aid local communities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Maeson L. Elleman
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

When incessant rain around Spangdahlem Air Base led to heavy flooding in the area July 14, Airmen from the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron rushed to aid local communities in need.

Maj. Daniel Blomberg, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Operations Flight commander, said approximately 50 volunteers from the base delivered roughly 1,800 sandbags to Binsfeld and Niederkail, Germany, and four firefighter Airmen augmented the Bitburg Fire Department.

“We took a bunch of Air Force civil engineers last night, and at the request of Binsfeld, we loaded up just under 1,000 sandbags and brought them to Binsfeld,” Blomberg said. “Then, we worked with the local fire department and the mayor to sandbag the homes and businesses in Binsfeld that were actively being flooded as the river went.”

At around 4 p.m. June 14, the mayor of Binsfeld reached out to Spangdahlem AB leadership to request aid. Tech. Sgt. Isaac Brenyah, 52nd CES Airfield and Grounds Maintenance section chief, said within two hours, the team of volunteers were out in the town and helping to manage the rising waters.

Brenyah said the base not only filled and delivered almost 1,000 sandbags, but they also provided an additional 1,000 empty sandbags to the town and used fire trucks and other equipment to clear drains and redirect water flow.

Shortly after, mayors from both Niederkail and Bitburg contacted the base to seek help diverting or draining the deluges — calls which the Airmen rapidly answered.

Despite hard work in the cold, heavy rain, Blomberg stressed that much of the aid came not from Airmen just following orders, but rather from uniform-wearing members of the larger community who chose to support one another.

Brenyah echoed the sentiment and said the level of dedication he saw his fellow engineers display made him even more proud of the work they accomplished and the relationship they maintain with local community members.

Brenyah said this relationship is also vital to mission success.

“We are always blessed to have great, hardworking Airmen come through,” Brenyah said. “They make our work very, very easy. I know we are here to perform a mission specific to the U.S., but we can’t do what we do without the support of the local community. It took a huge burden off their shoulders of what they would have been expected to do for their communities if we wouldn’t have shown up.”

Blomberg said that Spangdahlem AB had minor damage to 13 facilities, but the base weathered the storm fairly well by comparison. Still, he said it was only natural that Spangdahlem Airmen jumped at the opportunity to help their host nation neighbors.

“Eighty percent of the people on Spangdahlem live in the local community, and actually about half of the civil engineers on-base are local nationals,” Blomberg said. “If we can help them in any way, we always will.”