BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif --
For Recce Town, USA, radio communication plays a critical role in daily operations. From emergency responders, command post, and even flightline operations, the ability to communicate effectively is necessary to ensure the mission doesn’t stop.
It’s the sole responsibility of the Airmen attached to the 9th Communication Squadron antenna and cable shop to keep radio communications in operational condition.
According to Tech Sgt. Skyler Poole, 9th CS noncommissioned officer in charge of antenna and cable maintenance, without proper preventative maintenance the base would run the risk of losing communication between critical components of the flightline and first responder operations.
“For example, without functioning antennas security forces Airmen wouldn’t be able to communicate with dispatch during a response,” Poole said. “This extends to anyone on base with a land mobile radio, including the fire department and medical responders.”
Running tests on both the cables and attached antennas is a monthly responsibility, which starts at the base of the tower.
“It begins with following the cable up the tower and ensuring its structure is in good condition,” said Staff Sgt. Oliver Martinez, 9th CS antenna and cable supervisor. “From there, we run diagnostic tests that include a dummy load simulating a perfect read, checking for corrosion at all the connection points and making sure there are water tight seals.”
Before any maintenance can be accomplished, the Airmen have to climb towers, which can reach higher than 20 feet. This requires CS Airmen to go through a two week training course certifying them in climbing towers and poles as well as a yearly recertification.
“We have to recertify once a year and demonstrate our competency along with showing we have the ability to perform a rescue in the scenario that someone has become incapacitated or injured,” Martinez said.
Antenna and cable Airmen typically work in teams of three either climbing to inspect antennas, ground inspecting the cabling and finally as a safety officer observing from the ground.
Poole and Martinez feel they play a small role in the larger mission of reconnaissance and national defense.
“I see us as just a small piece in the puzzle,” Martinez said. “We’re here to do our job and be part of mission success,” said Martinez.