HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 419th Civil Engineer Squadron is home to nearly 150 reservists who train in a variety of specialties, from firefighting to
The 419th CES is made up of four flights: fire protection, explosive ordnance disposal, readiness and emergency management, and operations. Among more recognized career fields, such as EOD, the squadron also trains experts in areas that can go unnoticed: plumbing, electrical, heating and air, heavy equipment operations and maintenance, and even pest control.
“I don’t think many people realize how diverse the squadron is,” said Senior Master Sgt. Garrett Pantone, CES operations flight superintendent and senior Air Reserve Technician. “Every work area you see, either at home or overseas, a civil engineer has played a huge part in it.”
The squadron’s breadth of experience has made them a valuable asset in recent deployments. Over the past four years alone, Airmen in the 419th CES have deployed to eight countries throughout Southwest Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, along with several locations stateside.
Deployed duties can range from changing locks to repairing runways and constructing or updating works areas.
“Personal and squadron readiness is priority number one, and our troops always have a ‘can do’ and ‘will do’ attitude,” Pantone said.
The 419th CES is a Prime BEEF squadron – short for base engineer emergency force – meaning they can quickly deploy to establish and maintain contingency airbases.
Reservists in the CES are also called upon at home station. Monthly unit training assembly weekends see reservists fulfilling work orders for both the wing and base facilities. For example, reservists worked to repair eyewash stations and tested fire suppression systems.
Pantone said the CES has a tightknit “family feel” that keeps Airmen in the career field, along with opportunities to develop technical skills in each craft. He said Airmen in the CES take a lot of pride in their job.
“I consider civil engineers to be the ‘foundation’ of the Air Force,” Pantone said. “Ever since the modern era of aviation, CE has been behind the scenes to keep the infrastructure up and running. They’re absolutely essential to the Air Force’s mission.”