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Deployed Andersen Airman helps BEEF up Marine Corps mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melissa B. White
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
One Andersen Airmen uses his skills while deployed to build sun shades to improve the quality of life for a new F/A-18 Hornet squadron Sept. 23 and 24 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Wissman, a 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Airman deployed to the 777th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron, assisted his squadron and worked with members of the 232nd Marine Fighter Attack Squadron to set up the structures for their aircraft. The F/A-18 squadron from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., is the first Marine Corps unit of this type here and has been in place for about four months.

"We're here to provide them with better facilities, and it works out great because they're hard workers," said Sergeant Wissmann, a structural journeyman. "It's really hot out here so we're working together as fast as we can to get the job done."

On the busy work site, Airmen and Marines worked side-by-side under the hot sun and cloudless sky to fasten bolts, move arches, secure a canopy and operate machinery in a smooth partnership.

"I like being out here with these guys," said Cpl. Cody Deppen, 232nd VMFA structural and hydraulics mechanic, about working with the Airmen. "It's a good change of pace from the day-to-day work ... I never get the chance to work with them back in the states."

The Prime BEEF squadron is currently in the process of building a total of 10 sun shades for the unit, with an estimated completion in October or November. It typically takes the group about a day-and-a-half to complete one, with an additional week to pour the concrete blocks and allow for them to cure before they are able to anchor each structure.

Building the sun shades will enhance the quality of life for the Marines who work on the aircraft 24/7 and will also increase mission effectiveness. Sergeant Wissmann said there was a survey done where they monitored the temperature at up to 30 degrees cooler under the sun shades. Summer temperatures at KAF can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Sometimes the sun makes the jets so hot that they're too hot to work on," said Lance Cpl. Drew Petti, 232nd VMFA aircraft ordnance technician. "The shades create a great improvement in temperature ... the improvement is great."

Corporal Deppen also said the Marines won't have to worry about sunburn or heat stress factors as much during their daily routines.

The 777th EPBS received help from the Marines because they didn't have as many Airmen in their unit available at the time.

"We don't always have a lot of people on hand because we generally do work out at the forward operating bases rather than on KAF," said Sergeant Wissmann. "It's great having the Marines help us so we, in turn, can help them."

The Prime BEEF squadron, which handles smaller-scale construction projects than REDHORSE units, falls under the 577th Prime BEEF Group at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and is one of three Prime BEEF units in the country.

"I like the fact that I'm improving the quality of life and helping others, especially those who put their lives on the line every day," said Sergeant Wissmann.