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Rumford soldiers’ ingenuity keeps airfield clear of ice
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Task Force Knighthawk soldiers’ ingenuity was tested at Forward Operating Base Shank in December when it became apparent there was a need to remove ice from the runway.
“We realized we needed something to get rid of ice just before it started to snow,” said U.S. Army Spc. Lee Hough, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with Company E, TF Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, and a native of Rumford, Maine.
While the soldiers could have waited until the Army provided them with a de-icer, a piece of machinery designed to remove ice quickly, waiting may have impeded missions being conducted at the base.
“If we had waited for the Army to provide one and it didn’t make it here on time, then we wouldn’t have been able to clear runways as efficiently,” said U.S. Army Spc. Robert Benson, also a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with Company E, and a native of St. Claire, Mo.
The soldiers and their leaders put their heads together to figure out a feasible design for a homemade de-icer.
“As soon as I found out that we’d have to make it, we brainstormed on what would be the most effective way to make the de-icer,” Benson said.
Using parts they could scrounge on the FOB and a maintenance kit, the team was able to create a functioning de-icer out of a water buffalo, a military water trailer.
“The water buffalo is filled with de-icer fluid and gets pressurized from a truck’s air system,” Benson said. “On the rear of the buffalo is a pipe that was fabricated with 60 drilled holes in the bottom, to disperse the liquid in a 10-foot-wide spray pattern.”
Despite their lack of experience, the crew was able complete the project in short order.
“It took a couple days of work,” said U.S. Army Spc. Mark Goodroe Jr., a fellow wheel-vehicle mechanic with Company E, TF Knighthawk, 10th CAB, and a native of Angleton, Texas.
The project brought the entire motor pool platoon together and allowed everyone to contribute.
“It was a good platoon effort,” Hough said. “Everyone chipped in with painting and other parts in assembly.”