Let it Snow, Let it Snow....NOOOO

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Lee Straube
  • 155 ARW/Public Affairs
Sammy Cahn penned it, several artists sang it, however after a record of more than 24 inches of snow fell in Lincoln, Neb., in December, no one is asking for it anymore.
Snow blew in every nook and cranny that it could find, even under the hangar doors of the Nebraska Air National Guard Base, home of the 155th Air Refueling Wing.

If that wasn't enough, the snow was soon followed by bitter cold temperatures and even more wind.

According to Robert Doetker, a temporary state employee for the Nebraska Air National Guard, there were three different kinds of snow.

"We had the light powder, the blowing snow that packed and packed snow from a previous storm," said Doetker. "Each type of snow moves differently, so when it piles up the way it did, it became quite a task to clear."

Almost every member of the 155 Civil Engineer Squadron pitched in to help move the snow. Some of the members received an hour of training on a piece of snow removal equipment and then were put to work.

"We used eighteen different kinds of equipment, from the large snow blowers and plows, to walk-behind snow blowers and many shovels," said Doetker.

Despite being in use for continuous hours of operation, Doetker said the equipment held up well.

Doetker did say one snow blower kept blowing a seal, so they fired up a snow blower that was to be retired just to keep two of the large snow blowers clearing snow.

The snow removal crew worked extra hours and through the holidays to keep the base streets and aircraft parking ramp cleared.

"During the December unit training assembly, the Civil Engineer traditional Guardsmen had worked to clear snow from an earlier storm, so that helped," said Doetker.

On Christmas Eve day, when everyone was released at noon, the snow removal crew kept working clearing the base streets and sidewalks of the heavy snow that fell continuously through the holiday weekend.

"On Christmas day, Senior Master Sgt. Craig Anderson, the civil engineer facility manager, Dan Ptacek, a grounds worker, and I came in to keep the road to the base open and the large parking lot clean so the University of Nebraska football team could leave for San Diego," said Doetker.

Cleaning the snow from the aircraft parking ramp proved to be quite another undertaking.

While members of the 155 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron used walk behind snow blowers or a bobcat to clear the snow from around the unit's KC-135R Stratotankers, Civil Engineer members were cleaning the snow from the ramp.

According to Doetker, the ideal way of cleaning the ramp is to move all the snow from behind the aircraft, push the aircraft back into the cleaned area and then clean the snow from the rest of the ramp.

"We used both large snow blowers, two dump trucks and boss blades and a pay loader to move the snow from the ramp," said Doetker.

Doetker estimated they moved more than 300 dump truck loads of snow from the ramp.

"If we get another snow like we just had, we could have some problems since this is the first time we have been able to get ready for the next snow," said Doetker. "We like to pile it away so we can take the next snow."

This snow removal was a complete team effort according to Doetker.

If a piece of equipment broke, vehicle maintenance employees would fix the equipment without asking any questions. The vehicle maintenance supervisor allowed the storage of the snow removal equipment inside so the hydraulics would stay warm keeping the seals in good shape.

"I believe this was the main reason we didn't have equipment break down anymore than we did," said Doetker.

The base populace was very understanding in that the civil engineer work control didn't receive many trouble calls, he said. They understood the snow removal was the top priority.

Unit members also cleaned the snow from around entry doors of the different buildings so a tractor with a blade could then come in and clean away the rest of the snow from around the buildings.

Units such as the Aerospace Ground Equipment and Base Fuels cleaned the snow from their respective areas so the civil engineers could concentrate on the other major areas of the base.

With this type of support base wide, it made a major project more manageable according to Doetker.