Chasing perfection, achieving excellence: Curtin team arrives to inspect 435th CEG

1st Lt. Chrystal Smith
Kaiserslautern American

If it’s broke, they can fix it. If it’s cold, they make it hot. Pesky repair work and dreaded facility malfunctions don’t stand a chance as long as the mission of this unit exists.

The Airmen and civilians of the 435th Civil Engineer Group have the Midas touch, and the recent nomination for the Society of American Military Engineers Curtin Award, Air Force Outstanding Engineering Unit confirms it.

“If they had anything to do with it, you better believe it’s done right,” affirmed Chief Master Sgt. Rueben Gomez, 435th CEG superintendent, as he explained what the Curtin nomination means for the 435th CEG.

The award is named for the Air Force Director of Civil Engineering from 1963 to 1968, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Curtin, and is presented to the Air Force Outstanding Civil Engineer Unit annually in two size categories – large and small.

The 435th CEG is one of three finalists for the best CE large unit award going against Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

At home they are always getting their hands dirty from involvement with numerous installation improvement projects and programs, and as the Ramstein skyline and climate changes, a large portion of that change is attributed to the 435th CEG Airmen, said Chief Gomez.

The group is responsible for a revitalized $800,000 self-help program.
They played an integral role in the execution of over $200 million dollars in projects to transform Ramstein as a result of the Rhein-Main Air Base closure. Working with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Europe and German officials, the 435th CEG orchestrated the construction of a new runway, new hot cargo pad, new jet fuel systems, new fleet services/flight kitchen facility, new freight terminal and the expansion of two aircraft parking ramps.

Still, they have not slowed down; work continues on a new squadron operations facility, large aircraft hangar and expansion of the passenger terminal. They demonstrated great skill and expertise in runway repairs by keeping the command’s oldest runway in operation during the construction, said Chief Gomez.

The CEG championed USAFE’s first indoor C-130 engine-run facility that reduced noise by 700 percent. And they helped keep flight crews safe with the implementation of an $80,000 bird aircraft strike avoidance plan.
The energy reduction program surpassed the goal by 12.7 percent equating to about 2.3 million dollars per year in utility savings.
They partnered with DODDEA to deliver $5.5 million in school additions, modernizing a critical community resource and increasing the size by 50 percent.

The 435th CEG did all this while still leading the effort to improve the appearance of Ramstein.  As a result of their leadership and the support of all the other units on base, Ramstein shone during an unannounced assessment to win the 2005 USAFE Base Appearance Award and earned the honors as USAFE’s 2006 Installation Excellence Award nominee.

But their performance is proven not only for the members of Team Ramstein, but they are equally effective when they take this show on the road.  The CE Airmen affected major parts of Air Force operations as well as multinational forces.  They impacted the Air Force success while supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

For instance, throughout 2005, the 435th CEG  proved themselves as Expeditionary Airmen by deploying more than 250 engineers to multiple fronts in six different countries.

Among their accomplishments abroad, were a successful bed-down of a 3,000-person tent city that housed three Iraqi battalions –“essential amenities for the new Iraqi Army.”

They also supported reconstruction projects and assisted with humanitarian and civil assistance operations.

Among the assortment of “super-troops” are the DOD Firefighter of the Year, the U.S Air Forces Europe Civilian Manager of the Year, USAFE General Rawlings Award, the McAuliffe Housing  Excellence Award, 3rd Air Force Airmen of the Year, Wing Sijan senior officer and noncommissioned officer, Wing GEICO Military Service, and Wing Europe Command Servicemember of the Year winners.

“Good is not good enough when excellence is the standard,” said Chief Gomez. “We embody excellence in all we do, as we are aggressively chasing perfection and achieving excellence daily.”