OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The average Airman at Osan can accomplish quite a bit without ever leaving their dorm room: complete graduate classes from their favorite college back in Arizona, teach their little brother how to play the guitar over Skype, or even learn how to speak Italian through an online course.
The only reason this is possible is because of one small part of the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Mongrels, the facility systems element.
“Without the hard work these Airmen put in everyday, we aren’t able to do the simple things we often take for granted: playing video games in our dorm rooms, heating up leftovers, or checking email,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joe Bogdan, 51st CES facility systems section chief. “Facility systems Airmen, like all Mongrels, make it happen every day so others can accomplish their mission.”
Electrical systems Airmen are responsible for maintaining the miles of power lines interwoven across the base, providing power to Team Osan wherever it is needed.
“Our mission is to make sure that others have the support they need and the capabilities they need to get their missions done,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Scheerer, 51st CES facility systems element electrical systems craftsman.
In addition to providing power to ground units like command post and intelligence, the electrical systems Airmen operate an emergency airfield lighting system, providing U.S. and allied forces aircraft a safe visual guidance system to land here, even in wartime scenarios when normal power could be out of the question.
“It’s a complete EALS system for a 10,000 foot runway we can drop in bi-directionally,” said Scheerer.
No matter how well-maintained the power infrastructure is, the power will occasionally go out. This is when the power production team shines.
“[Everything] on this base that runs on electricity, whether it’s the dining facility, radar systems, even things with security codes on them, they all run on generators when the power goes out,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Schulte, 51st CES facility systems element electrical power production craftsman. “Without [us], the mission stops, and that’s why we take our jobs very seriously.”
The power-pro team is responsible for ensuring all of the generators on base will kick on quickly, easily, and operate efficiently whenever main power goes out.
Some of the most vital systems these two shops keep running are the security systems around base, which wouldn’t be capable of securing much without any power; Just as facility systems element Airmen provide power to these systems, several civilian Mongrels operate them.
“We maintain, we repair, anything that breaks, we go out and fix or replace. We help keep the base secure with the systems in place,” said Tyrone Thomas, 51st CES facility systems element integrated base defense security systems electronics technician.
From electrical locks to the closed-circuit television at various locations around base, the IBDSS team’s goal is to help make sure that nobody gets into an area they’re not supposed to be in.
When these three shops do their jobs perfectly, nobody will ever notice them. The second anything goes wrong, though, these Mongrels are ready to work under the spotlight . . . provided they have the generator powering that spotlight up and running.