OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- This is the first article in a series focusing on and recognizing the 'Dirty Jobs' done by Airmen of the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron.
He's coated in sweat and grime; hardened cement flakes cling to his skin but he doesn't stop, he's an Airman of the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron's pavement and construction shop working under the heat of the noon-day sun. Barely taking time to wipe a brow and guzzle down some water, these Airmen are better known as the "Dirt Boyz."
Jackhammering out broken sections of pavement before mixing, pouring and finishing the new concrete patches, the "Boyz" perform their primary duties of maintaining Osan's flightline. Since January 1, 2015, the "Dirt Boyz" have logged over 3,000 man hours completing more than 2,000 spot repairs on the 1.5 million square yards of Osan's airfield; but that's just a portion of what they do.
"Dirt Boyz is a term applied to an individual that has no problems putting on a uniform and knowing that at the end of the day they're going to be covered in sweat, dirt, soot, rust, grease, concrete or asphalt and it doesn't matter," said Senior Airman Chad Beasley, 51st CES pavement and construction equipment journeyman, "We wear it all with pride because it's what we do; it's our job, and it is dirty."
"What it is to be a dirt boy...a real dirt boy is hard work and long hours in the sun, rain, ice, snow and sleet; it doesn't matter the weather, we are in it and making the difference," said Beasley. "We're working to build the foundations the base will stand on. If you don't have strong foundations it'll all crumble. We believe in quality, positivity, and hard work, you need them all to be good at what you do in the Air Force, and the 'Dirt Boyz' are the best at what we do."
As experts in a vast array of heavy machinery, the "Boyz" are the resident jacks of all trades. Operating everything from road graders, bulldozers and sweepers to dump trucks, excavators and front end loaders they are who the other shops in CES call upon when a project needs to be accomplished.
"Until we get done fixing a problem no one else can get in to fix theirs. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning teams can't get into the ground to fix the cooling pipes for a building without us first digging the hole. Plumbers can't fix your water unless we dig the trench," said Beasley. "We pave the way for everyone else to get their jobs done."
Whether coming off a 12-hour shift, working through the weekend or getting called in at 2 a.m. for an emergency repair, "Dirt Boyz" are the ones working in austere conditions and most do it without complaint.
"I have laid asphalt when it was 100 degrees out and 275 degrees underfoot, lost five pounds of water weight in a single day; but I just wipe my forehead, smile big, splash some water on my face and sing while I continue to work. If you ask me, that's what it is to be a dirt boy." said Beasley before laughing. "'Dirt Boyz', we're the kids that would sit in the sand box playing with toy trucks, we never really grew up; our toys just got better and our sand box bigger."
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