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Engineer airmen give radios new reach

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Bagram Air Field communications professionals needed to expand their radio reach, and they knew the only way to go was “up.” The East Expansion Tower project was made a requirement for the 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron.

A specialized team of military engineers was assembled to engineer and install a 170-foot communications tower - the highest on base. The team was comprised of specialists from several Air National Guard Engineering Installation Squadrons including the Utah 130th, Minnesota 210th, Pennsylvania 211th, and Washington 215th EI Squadrons.

The towering steel structure design required great care. Any engineering or construction error could prove disastrous for those climbing the tower, those living or working around it.

The team only had one crane available to put the top of the tower into place. But even that crane only extended 145 feet. To prevent further delays while waiting for a taller crane, Master Sgt. Daniel Wright, a native of Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., and communications specialist from the 211 EIS, suggested using a contracted heavy-lift helicopter. Wright was accustomed to helicopter operations at his home station and was willing to coordinate the effort.

Just three days later, Wright and the project team, with the help of civilian helicopter contractors, had completed the entire planning process, obtained clearances, and designed mechanical safety guides for the three 1,500-pound tower sections. The next day, plan came to fruition when the tower was completed.

First Lt. Bruce Champion, an engineering installation officer who oversaw the project, had very high praise for the team’s efforts and success.

“This operation was a great example of taking innovative thinking and turning it into reality, along with providing the warfighters with experiences which are rarely experienced back home,” said Champion.

Article by Tech. Sgt. Shawn McCowan, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing