919th Civil Engineers: More than meets the eye

Senior Airman Darnell Ward, 919th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, calibrates the automatic control valve on the fuel line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.,July 8, 2017. The fuel line controls the pressure and rate at which fuel is transferred from the storage tanks to vehicles which service aircraft arriving and departing the base. The tests ensure there is no damage to aircraft or refueling vehicles due to tanks being over pressurized. (Air Force photo/Lt. Col. James R. Wilson)

Senior Airman Darnell Ward, 919th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, calibrates the automatic control valve on the fuel line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.,July 8, 2017. The fuel line controls the pressure and rate at which fuel is transferred from the storage tanks to vehicles which service aircraft arriving and departing the base. The tests ensure there is no damage to aircraft or refueling vehicles due to tanks being over pressurized. (Air Force photo/Lt. Col. James R. Wilson)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- Civil engineers encompass a wide range of jobs that are critical to maintaining military installations and ensuring the mission is completed, both at home and abroad.

Members of the 919th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron are a group of hard-working individuals who are anything but typical.

Maj. Austin Lovejoy, 919th SOCES commander, recognizes that it takes a special type of individual to thrive as a civil engineer.

“We need people who are agile and intelligent,” said Lovejoy. “They need to be willing to get hot, sweaty and dirty and to think critically” because there are times when we have to improvise in order to do this job.

Improvising to get the mission done is what Staff Sgt. Brian Davis said helped a group of civil engineers get through a recent deployment to Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands.

Approximately a dozen members of the 919th CES deployed to Saint Croix in support of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron to assist with repair of facilities that were in various states of disrepair. They dealt with major structural rusting issues, remodeled multiple bathrooms, and addressed a severe termite infestation.

“Being on an island, we didn’t have all of the materials we would normally have access to,” said Davis, a structural craftsman in 919th SOCES. “We had to work within our limitations to see the work through.”

Civil engineer squadrons are comprised of a large cross-section of skill sets that provide unmatched support to the mission. These include positions in plumbing, electrical, welding and metal work, carpentry, entomology and fire protection, just to name a few.

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Anderson, a firefighter with the 919th CES has seen multiple aspects of the civil engineer world, having experience in structures prior to moving over to fire protection where there are just over 20 members who train to combat structural and aircraft fires.

“We are always ready for a disaster,” said Anderson of the importance for their members to constantly train.

With so much impact on the base and the mission, there is a lot to be proud of as a member of the civil engineer cadre.

“When I come on base I know that I have had a hand in the construction, maintenance, and protection of much of the base,” said Anderson.

“I am most proud of our team’s ability to get such critical work done,” said Lovejoy.