Hawaii Reservists strengthen squadron bond, perfect engineer skills

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Raquel Griffin
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (March 12, 2017) – An overcast hangs over the sky smothering the rays of the sun like heavy volcanic smoke. The blaring sound of a bomb in the distance rings through their ears like liberty bells. The smell of uncertainty seeps through the air like carbine from a hot rifle.

Every 40 months, for a week, civil engineer airmen team up with Airmen from 19 skill sets nationwide to a simulated deployed location to establish and manage an operational base in a simulated deployed location. The training exercise known as Silver Flag is located just outside of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

For 10 civil engineer Airmen here, a trip to the sunshine state not only hones their skills, it also builds camaraderie.

The 624th CES is located on Oahu and a component of the Air Force Reserve who supports the 624th Regional Support Group’s mission to deliver mission essential capability through combat readiness, quality management and peacetime deployments to any area of responsibility.

I consider my trip to Silver Flag an opportunity to learn as well as bond with my fellow Airmen, said Tech. Sgt. Steve V. Dumlao, a 15-year veteran, is an electrician with the 624th Civil Engineer Squadron.

"Attending Silver Flag is an opportunity to get with my shop and do what we actually see on our computer-based training," said Dumlao.

Each section within CE received the opportunity to display their expertise. The electrical team prepared the runway lights, power production installed the mobile aircraft arresting system, while HVAC performed maintenance repairs on refrigerators and air conditioners.

These types of jobs require the use of a steady hand which is one of the reasons Master Sgt. Randolph A. Soriano, the 624th heating, ventilation and air conditioning NCO in charge, decided to become a civil engineer.

"I was in high school trying to think of what career field I was going into," said the 24-year veteran. "All I knew was that I wanted to work with my hands."

While spending time researching trades, HVAC sparked his interest and he began to look for jobs to learn the trade.

Soriano said he also knew he wanted to follow in his father's footprints and join the military someday.

"My dad was in the U.S. Navy and so I knew I wanted to join the military," said Soriano.

Both of these interests would lead him to join CE and pursue his dream.

Much like Soriano, family was a motivator to join the military said Senior Airmen Ricky P. Hipolito, a 624th HVAC specialist.

"My mother was a single parent and worked a lot," said the married father of two children. "Joining the military helped me to grow, understand life, and be strong."

Hipolito said he views members of his HVAC shop as role models and most importantly family.

“Along with strengthening our bond as a team, I was able to experience all aspects of my job that will be applied in deployed situations,” said Hipolito.

For Senior Airman Michael K. Young, a 624th electrician, attending Silver Flag was not only an opportunity to get to know his fellow CE team, it also helped him understand different aspects of his CE career.

Young said attending Silver Flag has been an eye opening experience that has helped him gain a greater understanding of the importance of his job.

"I thought I knew the big picture," said the former coast guard member. "This training opened up my eyes and taught me a lot."

Young said attending Silver Flag was so inspiring to him that he hopes to be able to inspire other Airmen one day.

"I hope I can teach a class like this one day," said Young. "I would tell young Airmen to keep a positive attitude and give it their best shot."

Overall, the 10 CE Airmen agree that their mutual respect, strong working relationship, and trust has made them a better team than they could have ever imagined. Co-workers turned ohana proves to be a bond with immeasurable power.