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The following correction to this article was posted Dec. 28, 2005: "A Dec. 24 story should have said that Lt. Col. Dave Maharrey, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron commander at Misawa Air Base, Japan, was the Pacific Air Forces’ runner-up for the Society of American Military Engineers Newman Medal. The squadron snagged 12 first-place awards from PACAF, including outstanding civil engineer squadron large unit."

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — It’s been a banner year for the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron. After snagging 12 of 30 awards from Pacific Air Forces in 2005, the squadron now competes for bragging rights as the Air Force’s best large-unit civil engineer squadron.

On Jan. 12, a team of Air Force civil engineers will visit Misawa to evaluate the squadron against the other finalists for the Robert H. Curtin Award: Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., and Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to do too much to get ready and it’s just [a continuation of] how we do business every day,” said squadron commander Lt. Col. Dave Maharrey. “We have been operating at a high level.”

Civil engineering is Misawa’s largest squadron in terms of total personnel, according to Maharrey. Including Japanese national employees, the unit’s eight flights comprise 800 people.

The evaluation team will review expeditionary and installation engineering, environmental leadership, housing excellence and emergency services.

The squadron’s fiscal 2005 achievements include an “excellent” rating in the PACAF Unit Compliance Inspection, said Maharrey. The inspection is a grueling review of compliance with policy and training requirements.

Several civil engineer units rose above their Air Force peers during the year. The environmental flight won a Defense Department environmental quality award, the snow and ice removal team was named top in the Air Force, as was the Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight. The squadron’s readiness flight was an Air Force award runner-up. The flight handles disaster response and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare training. The strong finish in this year’s PACAF civil engineer awards’ contest also likely helped Misawa get noticed, Maharrey said.

Winning 12 awards is pretty impressive, he said. “We submitted 26 packages out of a total of 30.”

The accomplishments came amid deploying 65 percent of the squadron from Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005. Misawa’s civil engineers’ downrange achievements cited in the Curtin award submission include directing Baghdad International Airport’s first major accident response drill and spearheading the closure of Camp Commando, Kuwait. That closure process relocated 44 facilities to five camps.

“It’s been a good year but we’re not done,” Maharrey said.

The squadron’s first-place PACAF winners, including several individuals, were:

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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