Air Force Engineers Repair Runway in Iraq

“It makes me really proud,” Burns said of his team. “Especially the Guard, reserve and active duty guys coming together [and] pooling our resources.”

As if the task at hand wasn’t already difficult enough, the old standby “the enemy always gets a vote” came into play. Airmen had to complete the demanding task under the persistent threat of indirect fire.

“Due to our location and the threat that is here, we are wearing our full kits and our helmets at all times,” Stevens said.

This may slow the process down a bit, but did little to discourage the airmen who recognized the value of their mission.

Stevens enjoyed the process and said he saw his team thrive in the face of adversity. “When boiled down, the airmen completed their task a lot faster than ISIL was able to complete theirs,” he said.

It took two years for ISIL to damage the airfield beyond what they believed repairable. It took a small team of 1st ECEG engineers three weeks to make it fully operational. Now the Coalition can quickly supply the Iraqi security forces on the front lines of Mosul, enabling the defeat of ISIL.

As the roar of turboprops peaked, the tires of the first Air Force C-130 cargo plane screeched across the runway surface, passing seamlessly over what used to be a stretch of dirt piles, concrete barriers and trenches. Shortly thereafter another aircraft landed, and many more will follow.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

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