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Kentucky Air Guard civil engineers complete tour in Afghanistan

The daughter, son and nephews of Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, an electrician in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, wait excitedly at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky.,  for Sergeant Cecil and more than a dozen of his coworkers to return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen were among more than 40 Kentucky Air Guard civil engineers who have been stationed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where they comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. The unit managed maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway, completing over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

The daughter, son and nephews of Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, an electrician in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, wait excitedly at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., for Sergeant Cecil and more than a dozen of his coworkers to return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen were among more than 40 Kentucky Air Guard civil engineers who have been stationed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where they comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. The unit managed maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway, completing over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Trevor Cecil tries to catch a glimpse of his father, Kentucky Air National Guard electrician Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, as the Airman walks down the aisle of the arrival terminal at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., on June 25, 2011. Sergeant Cecil and more than dozen of his coworkers were returning from a six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield Afghanistan, where they supported Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Their unit managed maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway, completing over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Trevor Cecil tries to catch a glimpse of his father, Kentucky Air National Guard electrician Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, as the Airman walks down the aisle of the arrival terminal at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., on June 25, 2011. Sergeant Cecil and more than dozen of his coworkers were returning from a six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield Afghanistan, where they supported Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Their unit managed maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway, completing over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, an electrician in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, hugs his daughter, Caitlyn, and son, Trevor, in the Louisville International Airport passenger terminal in Louisville, Ky., June 25, 2011, after returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. Sergeant Cecil was among more than a dozen 123rd CES Airmen who returned home on the same day, marking the first wave of more than 40 unit members who will be re-deploying from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron over the past six months, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed more than 60 construction projects worth over $300 million during the deployment, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt. Shaun Cecil, an electrician in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, hugs his daughter, Caitlyn, and son, Trevor, in the Louisville International Airport passenger terminal in Louisville, Ky., June 25, 2011, after returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. Sergeant Cecil was among more than a dozen 123rd CES Airmen who returned home on the same day, marking the first wave of more than 40 unit members who will be re-deploying from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron over the past six months, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed more than 60 construction projects worth over $300 million during the deployment, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Friends and family of more than a dozen Kentucky Air National Guardsmen wait to greet the troops at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., as they return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen are the first of more than 40 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron who will be returning from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron during the deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Friends and family of more than a dozen Kentucky Air National Guardsmen wait to greet the troops at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., as they return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen are the first of more than 40 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron who will be returning from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron during the deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Friends and family of more than a dozen Kentucky Air National Guardsmen greet the troops at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., as they return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen are the first of more than 40 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron who will be returning from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron during the deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Friends and family of more than a dozen Kentucky Air National Guardsmen greet the troops at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Ky., as they return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. The Airmen are the first of more than 40 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron who will be returning from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron during the deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed over 60 construction projects worth more than $300 million during the past six months, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt.Todd Edelen, a structural specialist in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, tickles his son, Landon, in the Louisville International Airport passenger terminal in Louisville, Ky., June 25, 2011, after returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. Sergeant Edelen was among more than a dozen 123rd CES Airmen who returned home on the same day, marking the first wave of more than 40 unit members who will be re-deploying from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron over the past six months, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed more than 60 construction projects worth over $300 million during the deployment, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt.Todd Edelen, a structural specialist in the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, tickles his son, Landon, in the Louisville International Airport passenger terminal in Louisville, Ky., June 25, 2011, after returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. Sergeant Edelen was among more than a dozen 123rd CES Airmen who returned home on the same day, marking the first wave of more than 40 unit members who will be re-deploying from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, through July. The Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron over the past six months, managing maintenance and construction for the 1,000-acre base and its 11,000-foot runway. The squadron completed more than 60 construction projects worth over $300 million during the deployment, including a new C-130 aircraft hangar, a 1,500-foot road and base housing for 500 personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

The Kentucky Air Guard's Tech Sgt. Gregory Smith uses an excavator March 16 to remove debris at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, while assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. The 455th ECES cleared out a temporary structure to make way for new construction in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Smith was deployed from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd CES. (U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

The Kentucky Air Guard's Tech Sgt. Gregory Smith uses an excavator March 16 to remove debris at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, while assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. The 455th ECES cleared out a temporary structure to make way for new construction in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Smith was deployed from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd CES. (U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

Master Sgt. Russ King, a Kentucky Air Guard electrician, reviews a wiring schematic March 2, 2011,  to ensure that electrical installations are complete in a new building being constructed at  Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. When not deployed, King is assigned to the Louisville, Ky.-based 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

Master Sgt. Russ King, a Kentucky Air Guard electrician, reviews a wiring schematic March 2, 2011, to ensure that electrical installations are complete in a new building being constructed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. When not deployed, King is assigned to the Louisville, Ky.-based 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

Chief Master Sgt. Steve Peters directs Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron March 6, 2011, as they construct an Alaskan Shelter at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The unit completed more than $300 million worth of construction projects during a six-moth tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree Blair)

Chief Master Sgt. Steve Peters directs Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron March 6, 2011, as they construct an Alaskan Shelter at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The unit completed more than $300 million worth of construction projects during a six-moth tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree Blair)

The newly built C-130 hangar began construction in June 2009 and will be the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's new home at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 14, 2011. the hange is Afghanistan's first permanent C-130 hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)
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The newly built C-130 hangar began construction in June 2009 and will be the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's new home at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 14, 2011. the hange is Afghanistan's first permanent C-130 hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

Kentucky Airmen executed more than 2,000 construction and maintenance work orders during their tour in Afghanistan, including a project to build housing for more than 500 personnel, a new facility for security forces and a 1,500-foot road. (Courtesy photo)
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Kentucky Airmen executed more than 2,000 construction and maintenance work orders during their tour in Afghanistan, including a project to build housing for more than 500 personnel, a new facility for security forces and a 1,500-foot road. (Courtesy photo)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, KY. -- The men and women of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron completed a six-month deployment to Afghanistan today when the unit's final deployed members arrived home to cheering loved ones at Louisville International Airport.

The Airmen were among more than 40 Kentucky Air Guard civil engineers who have been providing maintenance and construction services at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, since mid-December, said Senior Master Sgt. Marty Fautz, who served as the group's operations superintendent during the deployment.

Other unit members returned home as part of redeployment rotations on June 25 and July 22.

While overseas, the Kentucky Airmen comprised approximately 60 percent of Bagram's 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, a unit recognized as the Senior Airfield Authority and responsible for more than 1,000 acres of facilities, including 400 acres of concrete apron and an 11,000-foot runway, Fautz said.

During their tour, the Kentucky engineers programmed and constructed more than 60 projects, including the completion of over 2,000 in-house work orders, for a combined value of more than $300 million.

Fautz, who was involved in the planning and coordination of all projects tasked to the 455th, said his Airmen provided "incredible service" each day, as demonstrated when the Post Office warehouse tent became flooded, breaking the conveyor system and leaving mail to float freely in the flood waters.

"The conveyor presented a challenge," he said. "There were several unsuccessful attempts by others to fix the conveyer before we jumped in and supported the Army in a team effort to shore up the tent and start the mail moving again."

Other major projects completed at Bagram by 123rd engineers included a new C-130 maintenance hanger, a facility for security forces, construction of a 1,500-foot road for an aircraft homing beacon and the construction of two bed-down areas to house up to 500 personnel.

Some Kentucky Airmen, like Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Blair, were recognized by wing leadership for their exceptional performance in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Blair, a material control specialist involved in ordering parts and materials needed to complete work, solved a deficiency in the supply of barrier cables used to slow aircraft during emergency landings at Bagram Airfield.

"I remembered that the barriers we use at home during the Thunder Over Louisville air show come from Minot Air Force Base, so I gave them a call to get in touch with someone that could help us," she said. "I was able to get them to send us five more cables that we were in dire need of."

Despite such personal accomplishments, Blair was quick to offer praise for her fellow 123rd Airmen.

"Our guys work hard and take pride in everything they do, which is why our quality of work is so high," she said. "We are a collection of the best the Air Force has to offer."

Over a period of six months, Bagram typically will support more than 19,000 sorties, process over 200,000 personnel and move 1.2 million pounds of cargo, Fautz said, making it the busiest airfield in the world operated by the U.S. military.

That also makes it one of the largest challenges to support, from a civil engineering standpoint, but it was a challenge the Kentucky Airmen were ready to conquer, Fautz said.

"We have outstanding and very skilled personnel with us at every position," he said. "These Airmen are not afraid to take on anything. They don't give up or quit when the task seems impossible. They just rally together, dig in and get it done. Then they ask, 'OK, what's next?' "