Air Force Team Builds Hangar at Bagram Air Base

By Capt. Michael Meridith, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Nov. 7, 2007 - A nine-person team deployed from 49th Material Maintenance Group at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., recently completed the largest deployable aircraft shelter in the Air Force.

The team began construction on the 225-by-70-foot aircraft hangar Oct. 22 and completed it Nov. 5. The hangar, which is intended to simultaneously house three of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search-and-rescue helicopters, dwarfs the Air Force's 150-by-70-foot "standard model" hangar.

"Normally, these shelters are designed to hold one aircraft. This is basically two and half shelters grafted together, and is the largest one like it in the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Samuel Tran, of Salem, Mo., who leads the team.

Tran's team, which deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in August, is the only one of its kind in the region. As such, it stays in high demand. Because of their busy operations tempo, Tran said accomplishments like the hangar are "just part of the job."

Prior to its arrival here, the team had already tackled several large projects, including erecting three 6,000-square-foot shelters and one 4,000-square-foot shelter and dismantling one 4,000- and one 8,000-square-foot shelter.

"It's very exciting, especially being part of a unique team that goes out and does stuff like this," said team member Staff Sgt. Adam Boubede, of New Orleans. "We go out and get the job done as fast as we can, then move on and do it again. Everywhere we go, it's something new, whether it's repairing, reconstitution or building the biggest (deployable aircraft hangar) in Air Force history."

The four-month deployment is a first for several of the team members, but many are satisfied to put home-station training to use in support of expeditionary missions. "It's a good feeling," said Senior Airman Brad Hellberg, of Lancaster, Pa. "Without us, they wouldn't have the shelter. Back at home we train for this, then we come out here and do the work."

Tran said the team members have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for their work, but added that their motivation is something that comes from within the team itself.

"We look at each job as a challenge and see if we can beat our own record. Our motivation is internal; it's not something that comes from the outside. We don't compromise safety for speed; it has to be a marriage between the two," Tran said.

(Air Force Capt. Michael Meridith is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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