C-17 recovered in joint effort
Sgt. Victor Everhart,
3rd BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In February, a C-17 Globemaster III encountered inclement weather during a landing and overran the runway, causing damage to its landing gear and other critical parts.
Through months of planning and teamwork by the joint forces at Forward Operating Base Shank, this 282,500-pound aircraft was moved with no incidents from its location after the crash to a site where the servicemembers and Boeing employees could get the aircraft back to operational readiness.
“As soon as the aircraft overran the runway, we were looking at planning and how to recover the aircraft,” said Air Force Maj. Mel Ibarreta, officer-in-charge of the 777th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron at FOB Shank. “We contacted the aircraft maintainers at Boeing and got an understanding of what they needed. Once we finalized our planning, the heavy equipment operators, Tech. Sergeant Albert Fanini, Tech. Sergeant Robert Livingston and Staff Sergeant Johnny Resendez were able to execute the construction of the engineered wadi bridge ahead of schedule”
“We were tasked with building the bridge the aircraft was going to be moved over to stage for repair,” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Ursula Rothweiler, an engineer assistant assigned to the 777th EPBS. “Also included was completing dynamic cone penetration testing to assure that the bridge would hold the weight of the aircraft without sinking or giving way.”
With the necessary equipment and personnel named, and the tasks given, all that was left was the execution of the plan, moving the aircraft from the crash site to the repair site, a little more than a mile away.
“By the time I got on the team, the plan was set and it was mostly time for execution of mission,” said Sgt. Dennis Stout, the project noncommissioned officer in charge of personnel and equipment. “We were out here every day, busting butt, moving dirt and filling the areas needed to hold the weight of the huge bird, plus the equipment needed to pull the aircraft from its location to the objective.”
Once the preparation was done and everybody working on the project knew the plan, all that was left was the rehearsal and the move itself.
“The move went 100 percent better than I could have ever anticipated,” said Sgt. 1st Class Pierre Dye, the construction operations sergeant for the 7th Engineer Battalion. “We planned on the move requiring around five hours and I was amazingly surprised it took less than an hour. But that goes to show you when Soldiers, Airmen and civilians alike all put their minds and effort into a joint task that nothing is impossible.”
“What stands out the most to me about this whole affair is that it was a mixture of many, many people from many different sources, who all meshed together and worked extremely hard,” said Lt. Col. Gilbert Mestler, the FOB Shank garrison commander. “Around 200 people were involved in the planning and execution of this move, from construction engineers, design engineers, Boeing employees, Air Force security police, Army military police, Army pathfinders, all kinds of Soldiers, Airmen and civilians from many different fields have been involved in this effort.
“For a lot of those people this will be the culminating point of many weeks of effort from people of divergent fields,” said Mestler. “And we’re really proud of having successfully moved the aircraft without doing any more damage to the aircraft. As well as getting a C-17 back into the fleet, the runway should be back opened up to C-17 use for redeployment and deployment.”
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