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21st CES Airmen awarded for CMAFS flood response

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Nine Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron received the Air Force achievement medal for their efforts removing several thousand cubic yards of earth and tons of rock from the north portal entrance of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, during a ceremony at the base auditorium Dec. 18. The 21st CES Airmen worked as a joint team with Soldiers from Fort Carson to clear a usable roadway into the mountain within 48 hours of beginning the cleanup. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Robb Lingley).

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Nine Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron received the Air Force achievement medal for their efforts removing several thousand cubic yards of earth and tons of rock from the north portal entrance of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, during a ceremony at the base auditorium Dec. 18. The 21st CES Airmen worked as a joint team with Soldiers from Fort Carson to clear a usable roadway into the mountain within 48 hours of beginning the cleanup. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Robb Lingley).

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson AFB work to clear nearly 7,200 cubic yards of debris that collapsed during a rockslide at Cheyenne Mountain Sept. 12. The Airmen from the 21st CES worked hand-in-hand with the CMAFS engineer squadron as well as with Soldiers from Fort Carson who helped clear the debris within a week’s time. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Robb Lingley)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson AFB work to clear nearly 7,200 cubic yards of debris that collapsed during a rockslide at Cheyenne Mountain Sept. 12, 2013. Nine Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron received the Air Force achievement medal for their efforts removing several thousand cubic yards of earth and tons of rock from the north portal entrance of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, during a ceremony at the base auditorium Dec. 18. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Robb Lingley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- September rains brought a 500-year flood to Colorado Springs and in its wake left several thousand cubic yards of earth and debris and tons of rock at the front door of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.

Nine Airmen from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron were recognized for their efforts clearing that debris receiving the Air Force achievement medal during a ceremony at the base auditorium Dec. 18.

Master Sgt. Timothy Ebbens, 21st CES heavy repair superintendent, was the Peterson team lead for this undertaking.

"Four of us from 21st CES initially responded to CMAFS on 13 Sept," Ebbens said. "We responded to make an assessment at around 0900."

"When we arrived it was still raining heavily so visibility was minimal. As we drove up the hill to the north portal the road was washing out along the edge," Ebbens said. "When we reached the portal it was amazing to see how much damage nature can produce."

"After the initial assessment my first goal was to try and prevent further damage to the only road we had to get vehicles up and down to remove debris from the portal," he said.

Within hours, Ebbens said all of their equipment was working its way up the mountain to begin the laborious task of digging out.

Fortunately, the 21st CES Airmen also had a great deal of help from their partners at Fort Carson.

"Our unit worked great together with the engineers from Fort Carson," Ebbens said. "At one point there were about 16 Airmen from 21st CES and 30 Soldiers from Fort Carson."

"(The Soldiers) provided some larger equipment to move the silt and dirt," he added. "The Airmen provided dump trucks to haul the debris to a safe zone about a mile down the hill."

Ebbens said within 48 hours the joint forces were able to clear one lane into the north portal and four days later an accessible two-lane road was cleared.

"In total the combined forces of the Air Force and Army were able to remove 7,000 cubic yards of debris, place 800 tons of rocks for erosion control, preventing millions of dollars for road replacement," Ebbens said.

"The best part of working with the Airmen for CE is they take pride in everything they do and are enthusiastic after working long hours," Ebbens said. "This event was an awesome opportunity for the NCOs with experience to train the Airmen and teach them some skills they will be able to apply downrange in the future."

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