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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Building Strong ®

579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M) Global Support

FEST-M engineers lock onto targets during UAV tour

by Mark Abueg
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 18, 2010) – There were
no trains and there were no automobiles anywhere in sight. But a
group of Army engineers stationed in Afghanistan got up close and
personal with plenty of planes during a recent Air Force tour.

Members of the 579th Engineer Detachment (Forward Engineer

Support Team - Main) were on cloud nine yesterday as they visited
the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron facilities here to
learn about the many types of aircraft used within the airspace of

Among the planes they toured were two unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs), including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. Mike Quinn, electrical engineer with the 579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M),
looks over an MQ-1 Predator during a tour of the 62nd Expeditionary
Reconnaissance Squadron compound on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Quinn,
Roman Bieniek, FEST-M mechanical engineer, seemed very and other FEST-M members, also had the opportunity to view the MQ-9 Reaper
and the A-10C Thunderbolt II. (Photo by Mark Abueg)
impressed by the drones as he studied over the machinery during
the walkthrough.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “The technology is amazing and it only seems to be getting better.”

One of the unique capabilities of the UAV is that it can be up in the sky in Afghanistan while piloted from anywhere
around the world whether it’s in the United States or somewhere else overseas.

“This technology really is a great way to keep our pilots safe there while protecting our people safe here,” Bieniek

The highlight of the day was the A-10C Thunderbolt II as everyone got the chance to sit in the cockpit of the jet,
which provides close-air support capabilities. The engineers received first-hand instruction on the many components
of the jet’s instrument panel, but it was more about just being able to experience being inside of the A-10.

“Look at it,” said Purvis Eldridge, FEST-M civil engineer. “It’s awesome. I’ve never been in one. I’ll never get this
chance again probably. The warfighters are taking the fight to the air. The different ways they use manned and
unmanned planes is pretty amazing.”

Being on Kandahar Airfield allows the engineers to see aircraft come and go each day and night, so the chance to
get hands-on with them was an unforgettable experience.

“I’ve been seeing them from afar every night since I’ve been here, so to actually come out here and see them is
awesome,” said Sam Stacy, FEST-M public works engineer.

When asked how it compares to his own job.

“My job is exciting and I love what I do,” Stacy said. “But I would love to do this too.”


Camp Phoenix and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Camp Phoenix and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan