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AFCEC team lives up to protect, serve motto at former western bases

FORMER MCCLELLAN AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- From left, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center team of Mark Fossi, Paul Bernheisel and Gary Yuki monitor compliance at closed bases throughout the western region, like at MCClellan, in Sacramento, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott Johnston)

FORMER MCCLELLAN AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- From left, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center team of Mark Fossi, Paul Bernheisel and Gary Yuki monitor compliance at closed bases throughout the western region, like at MCClellan, in Sacramento, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott Johnston)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. --

"To protect and serve" is a motto commonly embossed on the side of police
cars.

For the Air Force Civil Engineer Center field team at the former McClellan Air Force Base here, even though they don't carry a badge or a gun, that motto also fits nicely when describing their work at the BRAC base in Sacramento, Calif.

Since closing in 2001, McClellan has become an international model for successful environmental cleanup and transformative redevelopment.

On the front lines of that effort is the three-man team of Paul Bernheisel, Gary
Yuki and Mark Fossi.

"We're the boots on the ground," said Yuki, a member of the McClellan field team since 2007. "We're an extension of the contractors doing the work. We provide feedback for what's going on out at the different sites and keep an eye on environmental aspects, like the vernal pools here at the former base."

Every day is a little different for the team. They perform a variety of tasks from monitoring work at many different cleanup sites, to carrying out inspections and escorting workers to various cleanup and construction sites around the former base.

"We're monitoring not only the Air Force contracts, but the local redevelopment agency's contractors as well," said Bernheisel, the team leader. "We're still responsible for environmental resources and any remaining assets on Air Force property and we perform those duties not only at McClellan, but other former bases as well."

In addition to McClellan, Fossi does field inspections across town at the former Mather Air Force Base and across the country in places like Galena, Alaska, at the former Galena Forward Operating Station and Mesa, Ariz., at the former Williams Air Force Base.
Yuki acts as the eyes and ears for AFCEC's Base Environmental Coordinator Stanley Pehl, at the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, Calif. Likewise, Bernheisel provides field support at the former Castle AFB and at Onizuka Air Force Station in Sunnyvale, Calif. He also travels to Alaska for work at Galena and Kulis Air National Guard Base.

As the Air Force continues to cleanup and transfer land at BRAC bases near and far, the team will continue to monitor the work that makes these places into success stories. After all, for Bernheisel, Fossi and Yuki, it's all in a day's work.