Road Runners enable AF Survival School mission
By Senior Airman Nick Daniello, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 14, 2017
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Seventy miles north of Fairchild, in the depths of the Colville National Forest, Airmen stand ready to fight below freezing temperatures, 50 plus inches of snow a year, all the while maintaining 450 miles of forested backroads within the 455 thousand acres of the 336th Training Group Survival School training area.
These Airmen are known throughout the Air Force as Civil Engineer “Dirt Boys,” but when they’re a part of the 336th Training Support Squadron, they’re called “Road Runners.” During the heavy winter months, their mission is to snow plow and maintain up to 100 miles of road at a time during a six month period: spending more than 180 days out of the year away from family and friends. They do all this to enable Air Force Survival School Airmen the ability drive to and from various training locations with minimal delay.
“Our Airmen operate on week long rotations and are on call 24/7 when they’re in the field,” said Capt. Cristina Behrens, 336th TRSS logistics flight commander. “This is a team effort, it takes our entire flight of 40 people from various Air Force Specialty Codes to support our Road Runners and the Air Force Survival School mission.”
The Road Runners maintain the standard for a 44-person bus to be able to travel these backroads, as this is the primary means of transportation for AF Survival School students, who are in the field 48 weeks out of the year, Behrens said.
“We rotate our shifts every Friday,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Hiener, 336th TRSS field’s operations NCO in-charge. “We have two shifts composed of four guys and we also have two vehicle maintenance Airmen up here with us at all times.”
The Road Runners operate various vehicles to include: motor graders, loaders, bulldozers and dump trucks. But, where there are vehicles, there are also maintainers to repair and sustain the vehicle fleet.
“Up here we’re standby mechanics who support the Road Runners, Survival School and their vehicles,” said Senior Airman Jacqueline Cisne Morales, 336th TRSS vehicle maintenance journeyman. “Without our vehicles the [survival specialists] couldn’t get to their training sites and their mission wouldn’t happen.”
Whether plowing the snow during winter months, or fixing various heavy equipment vehicles, the Road Runners and their team allow the Air Force Survival School mission to happen, enabling more than 6,000 combat survival students to be trained a year.