A team of 5th Engineer Battalion Soldiers has been recognized for completing an obstruction survey of Fort Leonard Wood’s Forney Airfield that will help keep pilots and passengers safe over the next five years.
Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, thanked members of the 5th Engr. Bn. Aviation Survey Team during a ceremony Nov. 25 at the unit’s motor pool, where the battalion stood in formation.
Paine presented the Army Commendation Medal to Staff Sgt. Hector Juarez, the team’s supervisor, and Army Achievement Medals to Sgt. Zachary Cianca, Pfc. Alexander Reynolds and Spc. Katarina Zimerman.
The team also included Sgt. Mitchell Madel and Spc. Francisco Salazar, who were unable to attend.
“What we want to do here is to recognize some well-deserving Soldiers for the great teamwork they showed,” Paine said, adding that the team used their skillset, “to make Fort Leonard Wood a better place.”
Completed in June following a short break due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, the Airfield Obstruction Survey involved measuring and recording all obstructions pilots may encounter during takeoffs and landings at the airfield, Juarez explained.
“Pilots, when they’re coming in, they need to know what’s there and at what height, so they can avoid coming in at (that obstruction’s) particular angle or at that particular height,” he said.
Allen Moll, Aviation Safety and Operations officer with the Directorate of Public Works Aviation Section, explained that all airports are required to complete obstruction surveys every five years.
Because the 5th Engr. Bn. team is authorized under Army regulations to conduct obstruction surveys, Moll said it made sense to use them to evaluate Forney Airfield.
Once completed, Moll said, the team’s report was so thorough and professional that other military installations have taken notice.
“Now there’s a line of Army (installations) who want to use these guys,” he said. “It was good for the team to do this here, and it was good for the airfield. I’m glad that they are getting the recognition they deserve — and being recognized Army-wide, too.”
Juarez gave full credit for the project’s success to his team.
“I couldn’t do this without them,” he said. “It’s really them and the work they do. I just come up with the plan, manage and supervise.”
For their part, Cianca, Reynolds and Zimmerman all said they appreciated the recognition.
“It’s really great to get out there and do what we’re trained to do,” Zimmerman said.