Engineers immortalize fallen brethren

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Today's Air Force embraces a warrior ethos or mindset.

The culture evolved mostly due to increased operations tempo, modernized warfare, new technology and a focus on the total-person concept. Heritage, honor and legacy all play into the foundation of what it truly means to be an Airman.

To understand the Air Force's heritage and grasp the warrior ethos, Airmen from the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron here created a tribute to recognize the contributions of fallen engineers throughout the service's history. They honor the engineers who have died in combat operations by placing memorial plaques along a wall in the 52nd CE headquarters' "Hallway of Heroes."

The plaques lining the hallway include a brief history of Air Force engineer casualties from the Vietnam era until now. Work for the hallway began in July, and while it is currently completed, there is space allotted for a continuation.

"It's sobering," said Lt. Col. William Kale, 52nd CES commander. "We are still in combat operations, and we may yet lose more brothers or sisters."

Kale said the information in the memorial gives his Airmen a chance to learn more about hero engineers of the past and present.

"The way we are today and what we'll be in the future all starts in the past," said Staff Sgt. Brittany King, 52nd CES and one of the tribute's creators. "We wouldn't be here today if not for the people on that wall. They made it possible, and they paid the ultimate sacrifice."

At the beginning of the Hallway of Heroes, an inscription details how these combat engineers epitomized the Air Force's core values of integrity, service and excellence. It goes on to say their courage inspires Airmen every day, and they will never be forgotten.

"This is a living project," said Staff Sgt. Jevon King, 52nd CES and one of the tribute's creators. "Some of these are people that we knew -- CE is a small world. We notice the wall, because these are some of the people we have worked with, known or have been stationed with throughout our career.

"This is for a bigger cause," he continued. "We're remembering and paying respect not only to our squadron members, but to our CE family members."

The civil-engineer career field comprises many different skill sets and capabilities, Brittany King said. However, the importance of recognizing Airmen engineers transcends all careers.

"It puts it in perspective," she said. "Just looking at the plaques reminds us of the warrior-ethos mentality. This is real life -- these are people, not statistics. It brings it all home."