USACE builds on AF's vision
By Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 13, 2014
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- With a heritage that dates back to construction of the Washington Monument, Panama Canal and the Pentagon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Osan Resident Office has a lot to live up to.
The team of 20 doesn't let that intimidate them as they strive to enhance the base's infrastructure and give substance to the plans their Air Force partners have for the future.
"We're working on six host nation-funded projects right now," said Jamie Hagio, USACE ORO resident engineer. "There's always a new challenge - it's never the same thing every day."
Among the construction currently underway is an eight-lane second runway.
"The concrete paving is about 55 percent complete," said U.S. Army Maj. Brian Becker, USACE ORO project engineer. "We're also working on installing drainage systems around the area."
The runway is being paved at a pace of about 1,200 feet per day using a sophisticated machine known as a slip form paver that creates cookie cutter-like sections of concrete. Three-man teams must follow the paver along each side to drag burlap across the concrete's surface, creating the exact texture needed for aircraft to take off and land.
"Depending on the section, the concrete is between 12 and 18 inches thick, with the touchdown area being the thickest," Becker said. "If the texture or thickness is incorrect even on an infinitesimal level, the section has to be re-done."
Joon Seok Lee, SK Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. quality control chief, said the relationship between members of the runway project could best be described as friendship.
"It's the best example of teamwork," Lee said.
A 277 room dormitory for senior NCOs - scheduled for completion near the end of 2014 - is also on the resident office's project list.
Jung Ok Kim, Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense-Defense Installation Agency project engineer, said the structure has progressed well thanks to open communication between all parties involved.
"I am very satisfied with the work environment at Osan," Kim said. "It's better than other places I've been. The best team is here."
Service members aren't the only ones who benefit from USACE projects, though. Near the main gate, a new elementary school has begun to take shape as construction workers build rebar forms to lay the concrete foundation.
"The school will house students in kindergarten through fifth grade and is a $30 million endeavor," Hagio said.
Becker said he enjoys the unique opportunities that come from working on an air base, but that one of the most gratifying aspects of his career is leaving a legacy.
"After a job is complete, you have the satisfaction of knowing that project will last for decades," Becker said. "Someday my kids could land on this runway that I helped build. A lot of pride goes into building enduring features of the base."
Hagio served as an engineering officer in the U.S. Army for more than six years before his time with USACE, and said he's lucky to have had the experience of working in the ROK with the high volume of construction for eight years.
"I love having tangible proof of the effort we put into a project," Hagio said. "I believe building facilities for our military contributes to our readiness and enhances our ability to fight tonight. It's great to support the warfighter."