49th Civil Engineering Squadron “Dirt Boyz” support aircrew training mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michelle Ferrari
  • 49th Wing

The 49th Civil Engineering Squadron “Dirt Boyz” takes a unique approach to environmental stewardship. They showcase their potential for creativity, sustainability, and community-building through innovative projects.

Dirt Boyz is a term of endearment which is said with respect, admiration and distinction throughout the civil engineering career field.

“We do a lot of groundwork from setting up for asphalt, concrete pads, trenching, excavation, digging down flattening, leveling,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Feagin, 49th Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and construction equipment apprentice. “We’re called the Dirt Boyz because we use a lot of earth-moving equipment and that’s the biggest reason but mainly we like to play in the dirt.”

The 49th Civil Engineering Squadron Dirt Boyz take a unique approach to environmental stewardship. They showcase their potential for creativity, sustainability, and community-building through innovative projects.

“We are all really proud of what we do,” said Feagin. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the Air Force.”

One of the most significant impacts of the Dirt Boyz lies in their ability to build communities. Their projects have not only provided shelter but also created spaces for social interaction and cultural exchange. By involving local communities in the construction process, the Dirt Boyz have empowered individuals, fostering a sense of ownership and pride in their surroundings. These projects have become catalysts for change, promoting unity, resilience, and a shared vision for a sustainable future.

“People may not know all of what our job entails so they may have a misconception about our career field,” said Staff Sgt. Bobby Hill, 49th CES pavements and equipment supervisor. “A lot of jobs we do to help create communities consist of getting out of the heavy equipment and doing manual labor like swinging a sledgehammer or using a shovel pickaxe.”

Dirt Boyz demonstrate the versatility of building material by creating sustainable structures such as houses, schools, and community centers utilizing locally sourced dirt. They have not only reduced construction costs, but promoted the use of eco-friendly materials, minimizing the carbon footprint associated with traditional construction methods.

The Dirt Boyz are highly trained and skilled engineers, technicians, and craftsmen who possess determination in various construction disciplines. Their primary objective is to ensure that airfields and infrastructure are operational, safe, and capable of supporting aircraft and personnel. Whether it’s repairing runways, constructing hangars, or building roads, the Dirt Boyz are always ready to tackle any task to enable the Holloman’s mission success.

“Nothing gets done in this space without Dirt Boyz,” said Hill. “We operate everything from pan tools, shovels, sledgehammers, K12 saws, backhoes, loaders, graders, water trucks, airflow sweepers, cranes, dozers, every kind of heavy construction equipment you can think of, we operate.”

One of the key responsibilities of the Dirt Boyz is airfield damage repair. In times of conflict, natural disasters, or emergencies, airfields may be subject to damage that can hinder operations. The Dirt Boyz are trained to rapidly assess and repair runways, taxiways, and other critical infrastructure to restore airfield functionality. Their ability to respond swiftly and efficiently is crucial in maintaining air superiority and enabling the rapid deployment of forces.

In addition to airfield repairs, the Dirt Boyz also play a vital role in constructing and maintaining expeditionary air bases. These bases are often established in remote deployed locations where there may be limited existing infrastructure. These projects are called Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer. When these projects are finalized, the RED HORSE Dirt Boyz take on civil engineering jobs to the base.

“As a RED HORSE, everywhere we went people were generally happy to see us,” said Tech. Sgt. Alonzo Marquez, 49th CES pavements and construction equipment noncommissioned officer in charge. “If you were there struggling to live life on a deployed location and a Dirt Boy came to town, you immediately knew that life was about to get better at that location.”

The work of the Dirt Boyz requires not only technical skills but also strong teamwork and adaptability. They often work in demanding conditions, including remote locations, harsh climates, and high-stress environments. Their ability to collaborate effectively, problem-solve on the fly, and work under pressure is essential to their success.

“There is a sense of pride amongst us that we do what we do for each other and that's what makes this less of a job and more of a colony,” said Marquez. “It’s about the people. There’s nothing more prideful to a dirt boy at the end of the day than dirty hands and a sweaty, soaked t-shirt. That’s our trophy at the end of the day.”

Dirt Boyz dedication and expertise in ensuring the construction and functionality of airfields, infrastructure, and facilities are invaluable to military operations. They play a vital role in supporting air superiority, enabling rapid deployment of forces, and constructing bases in deployment locations. Their contributions to the Holloman’s mission are immeasurable, and their commitment to excellence is unrequitable.

“The Dirt Boyz are integral to every job on base,” said Staff. Sgt Nicholas Steding, 819th RHS pavements and construction equipment craftsman. “No matter what you do, pavement and heavy equipment operators will be the foundation and that will never change.”