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New York Air Guard 106th HVAC Engineers use skills to save the day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kevin Donaldson

FRANCIS S. GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, New York – The New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing Services kitchen operations were halted due to a broken water heater during the March drill here, March 5, 2022, until the 106th Civil Engineers came to the rescue and replaced the water heater within two hours of notification.

When the water heater broke down on that Saturday morning, the Services' mission was hindered because they could not provide meals for the Airmen. Without access to on-base meals, members would have to go off base for food, which could have been time consuming and costly.

Senior Airman David Romano and Senior Airman Andres Suarez Cortes, both 106th heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians, were training on water heaters when they got the call that turned their training into a real-world emergency that affected the Services' mission to provide meals for the Airmen during the drill, according to Technical Sgt. Steven Jones, 106th HVAC supervisor.

"It's always great to use our training to solve real-world situations," Jones said. "Romano and Cortes did a great job assessing the problem, a broken water heater, and replacing it with a water heater we had in storage."

It felt good to be able to respond to an emergency and contribute to mission success, Romano said.

Access to hot water is a mission-critical component that allows us to prepare food, have things at the proper temperature, and maintain cleanliness to operate a kitchen effectively, said Technical Sgt. Dominic Surinaga, 106th Prime Readiness in Base Services (RIBS) manager.

"We appreciate the help of the 106th engineers; they saved the day!" Surinaga noted.

As an Air National Guard unit, all of our Airmen are leaders who train to be mission ready and handle situations at the lowest level, whether deployed worldwide, on state missions, or responding to emergencies on base, said Major Devery Herth, the 106th Force Squadron Support commander.

"I'm thankful that our engineers showcased their mission readiness and tactical capability by replacing the water heater allowing Services to provide meals to our Airmen," he said.

The 106th Rescue Wing, based in F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations. Currently, the wing also supports statewide COVID-19 missions.