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445th CES: Illuminating, electrifying Air Force mission

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Rachel Ingram
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Civil engineers distribute electricity to everything across Wright-Patterson Air Force base that requires it, including houses, water processing facilities, and recreational facilities on base like the fitness center and movie theater.

“People don’t always think about the role that electricity plays in life as they know it,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Downer, 445th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems non-commissioned officer in charge. “From the top to the bottom, we depend on electricity. Without it, we don’t have clean water, hot meals, computers, air conditioning, phones, or traffic lights.”

The 88th CES and 445th CES work in tandem to keep the base electrified.

“Partnering with the 88th Civil Engineer Squadron helps us take our skills beyond just classroom training and it also saves the Air Force money,” Downer explained. “When we go in and perform repairs, it prevents the base from having to contract some of those work orders to outside agencies, who then bill for the labor performed.”

Currently, the 445th CES electrical systems shop is updating the electrical towers at approximately 50 sites in the base FamCamp. This work is occurring exclusively during unit training assembly weekends, and since its inception in April, the project is about halfway completed.

“It lightens the load on the folks in the 88th CES, and it also gives us the real-world experience we need,” said Senior Airman Steven Burson, electrical systems journeyman.

Training is critical in this highly technical career field.

“It’s not simply plugging in an extension cord. You have to be able to analyze the power requirement that exists and satisfy it,” Downer said. “If the electrical system isn’t properly grounded, the consequences can be deadly.”

Electrical technicians from the 445th have also completed other projects on Wright-Patterson AFB which benefited the entire base community.

“We installed cooking appliances in the dining facility, and we’re also responsible for the maintenance of airfield lighting and counter-terrorism measures at the gate,” said Senior Airman Eric Nelson, 445th CES electrical systems journeyman.

In a deployed environment, the work of electrical systems technicians enhances mission capabilities.

“When I was overseas, we installed perimeter lighting in the aerial port facilities so their night shift could do their job if flights had to depart when the sun wasn’t shining,” Burson said. “The lights enabled those airmen to increase their productivity and get mission-essential equipment into the air faster.”

And if the lights do go out, whether here or overseas, you can bet the electrical shop will step up.

“If we don’t do our job,” said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Crawford, 445thh CES electrical systems superintendent, “nobody else can do theirs.”