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Ramstein stays winter ready with snow removal team

Heavy snow equipment is parked in front of the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron’s heavy equipment facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 19, 2016. The members of Ramstein’s snow removal team are comprised of Airmen throughout the 786th CES and 86th Maintenance Squadron. This is a secondary job that they perform before and throughout the winter season. Preparations for winter weather hazards are made to ensure Ramstein’s 24-hour operation can continue during inclement winter weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lane T. Plummer)

Heavy snow equipment is parked in front of the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron’s heavy equipment facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 19, 2016. The members of Ramstein’s snow removal team are comprised of Airmen throughout the 786th CES and 86th Maintenance Squadron. This is a secondary job that they perform before and throughout the winter season. Preparations for winter weather hazards are made to ensure Ramstein’s 24-hour operation can continue during inclement winter weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lane T. Plummer)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Ramstein base operations run 24-hours a day, which means preparations have to be made and attention to detail is critical.

Some of those details are snow and ice buildup on the flightline. However, thanks to the snow removal team headed by the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron, everything is ready for the first winter weather event.

“The Ramstein snow removal team is a cohesive, multifaceted military and local national team,” said Staff Sgt. Ernest Opoku, the unit’s snow removal shift lead NCO in charge. “We’re the first ones in and the last ones out when inclement weather strikes Ramstein.”

The snow removal team consists of 86 personnel who provide 24/7 service base-wide, and are pulled from regular duties when winter weather arrives. There are 20 heavy equipment operators and 24 civil engineer augmentees designated to the airfield. Also serving are 26 local national equipment operators and ground maintenance personnel designated to Ramstein’s roads and parking lots. Finally, there are 16 heavy equipment operators, augmentees and local nationals designated to the 86th Airlift Wing’s geographically separated unit roads and parking areas.

A combined effort between the 786th CES and several other units all play an integral part in working together to designate priorities dictated by the mission. One Airman that helps keep the mission running snow and ice free, Airman 1st Class Hayden Borchardt, the unit’s heavy construction equipment journeyman, feels this opportunity is rewarding.

“Ensuring aircraft land and depart without mission delay provides a huge sense of accomplishment,” Borchardt said.

While they aim to tear down snow buildup, they enjoy the camaraderie that builds through these events.

“As a member of the team, camaraderie is important because it brings me and my coworkers closer together,” Borchardt said.

Preparations for winter weather hazards are made to ensure Ramstein’s 24-hour operation runs as smoothly as possible. Opoku said that without the combined efforts of every Airman involved in the snow removal team, the Ramstein mission wouldn’t just suffer; it wouldn’t be possible.