An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Article View

Dirt Boyz: it’s a tough job, but they dig it

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Thomas Calopedis
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Within the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron are specialized sections that take on their own unique nicknames to describe their duties, such as the pavements and heavy equipment section, better known as the “Dirt Boyz.”

The Dirt Boyz are responsible for any CE project that involves construction and repair on runways, buildings, roads, sidewalks, dirt work or any other horizontal construction and maintenance on the installation.

“Here at Aviano we're a Prime BEEF unit, which is primarily preventative maintenance (PM),” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Batt, 31st CES pavements and heavy equipment supervisor. “This includes potholes, cracks and smaller repairs.

The Primary Base Engineer Emergency Force, or Prime BEEF, makes up the majority of Dirt Boyz. They are responsible for general base maintenance, but their main priority is keeping the airfield ready and the jets flying, keeping Aviano AB mission ready no matter what.

“If the airfield gets hit, we’d get the call,” said Airman 1st Class Alex Guadagno, 31st CES pavements and heavy equipment journeyman. “Every couple of months we do a rapid airfield damage repair (RADR) exercise to make sure we’re squared away.”

In addition to RADR and road repairs, the Dirt Boyz also maintain the fences that surround bases. They routinely drive around the entire perimeter and make sure there are no faults present, as well as accepting work orders submitted by Security Forces or any other unit notices something in need of repair.

“We don’t get a lot of work orders for things that are already broken because of our PM,” said Batt. “Our shop does a great job with that.”

A large part of their PM is keeping the airfield serviceable and cleaning it daily. The Dirt Boyz use sweepers on the airfield during morning checks and also have one of their Airmen on-call 24/7.

Many sections within the 31st CES work together to accomplish a variety of tasks.  Many of these projects rely on the Dirt Boyz and their unique skillset and expansive inventory of heavy equipment to get the job done, according to Batt.

“When you step into a road grader for the first time, you're going to be completely confused because it takes a lot of practice,” said Guadagno. “I like the challenge, so I enjoy using either a grader or an excavator the most.”

The open-ended nature of their job leaves Dirt Boyz with plenty of challenges to overcome, but it also gives them freedom in how to accomplish their objectives. Taking into account all of the tools and machinery at their disposal, they’re also encouraged to think on their feet in case the ideal equipment for their job needs repair or is in use elsewhere.

“There’s not just one right way to do things,” said Batt. “Day-to-day, a piece of equipment may be in repair, or there’ll be other unexpected constraints to work around. But there can be numerous solutions and we have that flexibility. It’s my favorite part of the job.”

Batt and Guadagno both say they find the camaraderie of standing back with the team to take in a job well done is the most rewarding part of their job.

“Starting a project from nothing, whether road related or on the airfield, and finishing it with the guys and knowing we’re having a direct impact on the mission and base is a great feeling,” said Batt. “It makes the tougher moments on the job worth it.”