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NEWS | July 5, 2024

Laying the foundation for future warfighters

By Airman 1st Class Skylar Ellis 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Pavement and equipment operating is one of the most physically demanding jobs in the U.S. Air Force. Known as the “Dirt Boyz” for their close relationship with grimy terrain and messy construction materials, these operators work in the pavement and equipment shops at bases worldwide, and operate heavy machinery like road graders, bulldozers, and dump trucks. They endure long hours of strenuous labor in blistering heat and freezing cold to ensure airfields, roads, and drainage systems are functional and safe. From filling dangerous potholes to clearing snow from runways, these Airmen's expertise and dedication keep the bases running smoothly. The 633d Civil Engineer Squadron's Dirt Boyz exemplify this commitment, working tirelessly to maintain essential infrastructure at their base.

Recently, the Dirt Boyz teamed up with the Airfield Pavement Evaluation team from Tyndall Air Force Base to get an expert assessment of the base’s overall condition. This collaboration was crucial to identify and prioritize the most critical areas in need of repair, whether on airfields, pavements, or asphalt surfaces, ensuring the entire base remains safe and fully operational.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis is now preparing for a major upgrade with new sunshades to accommodate more F-22 Raptors. This expansion is vital for enhancing the Air Force's capabilities, allowing for more frequent flights and improved readiness. To support this growth, the Dirt Boyz are focused on one key project: ensuring the airfield infrastructure is in top condition to meet the F-22s’ demanding requirements. These requirements include precise runway smoothness and strength for the aircraft’s high-speed takeoffs and landings, as well as the importance of the new sunshades to protect the F-22s from harsh weather and extreme temperatures. Runways, susceptible to damage from freeze-thaw cycles, heavy aircraft, and ground settling, must be meticulously maintained for safe operations.

As part of this $6.3 million project, the Dirt Boyz are addressing 74 airfield spalls, like  small cavities or depressions in the pavement. Their work is essential to maintain the structural integrity and safety of the runways, ensuring that the new sunshades and expanded facilities can support the increased fleet of F-22 Raptors and enhance the base’s overall operational efficiency. This improvement allows for more frequent flights and better readiness, ultimately boosting the base’s mission capabilities.

“The moment I realized how important the work we do as Dirt Boyz, wasn’t while I was deployed, but throughout the six years I’ve been in,” said Staff Sgt. Luke Roche, 633d CES pavement and equipment operator. “Every day, I get to stand on the flight line watching jets take off, knowing what I do plays a crucial role in generating aircraft.”

The Dirt Boyz are currently hard at work on Sweeney Blvd., where they are using 120 tons of asphalt and applying a fog seal to extend its lifespan. These efforts demonstrate their ongoing commitment to maintaining the base’s infrastructure, ensuring road safety and usability for everyone on base.

In August 2024, the Dirt Boyz will undertake a major task: resurfacing about 520 feet of Worley Rd. with 150 tons of asphalt, marking the first time in 15 years that they will utilize a paver. This stretch of roadway is approximately one and a half football fields long. Even with a busy workload, the Dirt Boyz consistently demonstrate impressive efficiency and commitment in managing both ongoing and future projects.

Despite the gritty nature of their work, the Dirt Boyz play a crucial role in maintaining both the aesthetic appeal and operational efficiency of the base. Their relentless efforts ensure that the airfield infrastructure remains safe and reliable, directly contributing to the base's mission success. Pavement and equipment operators have proudly earned the title “the Dirt Boyz” through their unwavering dedication and hard work, proving indispensable to the Air Force's operations and readiness.