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Capt. Lynette Conley, 38, from Portland, Ore., with 31st Rescue Squadron, uses her trash bag to scoop up snails, pebbles, rocks and any other debris on Kadena Air Base's two-and-a-half mile long runway during its annual FOD walk.

Capt. Lynette Conley, 38, from Portland, Ore., with 31st Rescue Squadron, uses her trash bag to scoop up snails, pebbles, rocks and any other debris on Kadena Air Base's two-and-a-half mile long runway during its annual FOD walk. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — If it doesn’t grow, it goes.

That was the mandate for more than 2,000 airmen, sailors and Marines during Kadena Air Base’s annual foreign object damage (FOD) walk Wednesday on the tarmac and surrounding areas.

During the walk — a supplement to daily searches by flight-line personnel — servicemembers looked for lost tools, personal items and airfield debris.

As most associated with the military know, foreign object damage from debris pulled into aircraft engines can be dangerous — and it can suck up a lot of money.

In 2005, FOD incidents resulted in more than $1.5 million in damage to Kadena aircraft, said Col. Jeff Kennedy, 18th Wing vice commander.

“Even a little piece of rock can get sucked up into an engine and damage a fan blade. That alone can cause $3,000 to $4,000 in damages,” Kennedy said.

Master Sgt. Warren Rogers, the base’s FOD manager, said an aggressive FOD prevention program has drastically reduced damage more recently.

In the 2006 fiscal year’s first quarter, FOD incidents cost Kadena $18,000 in damage. For 2007’s first quarter, which began in October, FOD incidents resulted in only $3,500 in damage, he said.

And for the last five quarters, the base has not experienced any FOD incidents resulting in damage of more than $20,000, Rogers said, adding that 90 percent of all FOD incidents are preventable.


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