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Airfield management helps support Ellsworth operations

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- While maintainers and aircrew work 24/7 to ensure Ellsworth's B-1 bombers execute with precision on each sortie generated, another group of Airmen provide constant support by maintaining and patrolling more than 4,000,000 square-feet of airfield.

From airfield inspection to coordination with aircrews, the 28th Operations Support Squadron airfield management personnel work hand-in-hand with air traffic control and various base agencies to execute Ellsworth's mission.

"Our mission is to maintain a safe, efficient and effective airfield," said Staff Sgt. Crystal Bennoch, 28th OSS NCO in-charge of airfield management operations. "We are able to do this by performing daily airfield inspections and checks along with monitoring the status of airfield construction projects, airfield pavements, markings, lighting, signs and navigational systems."

In addition to maintaining a safe airfield environment, they also respond to in-flight and ground emergencies, and report wildlife hazards and foreign object debris.

"Our job is vital to the Ellsworth mission because we protect and safeguard one of our main assets - the B-1," said Airman 1st Class Justin Chung, 28th OSS airfield management coordinator. "We also make sure all other arriving and departing aircraft have a safe airfield to land and take off from."

Chung added that being an airfield management coordinator requires knowledge of and interaction with many functional areas that are vital to maintaining an operational airfield environment.

"We coordinate with air traffic control, civil engineers and command post to ensure support of airfield management activities," said Chung. "On any given day, a lot can be happening on the airfield and we have to make sure we know what is happening, so that we can guarantee a safe airfield environment."

Bennoch said the safe takeoff and landing of aircraft, and more importantly aircrew safety, rests upon the shoulders of airfield management personnel.

"Every successful mission begins and ends at the airfield," said Bennoch.