Grissom’s Civil Engineer Squadron recognized as top CE unit in AFRC

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Rachel Barton
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Since 1966, the Society of American Military Engineers, or SAME, has recognized top Air Force civil engineering units with the Curtin Award, named for Maj. Gen. Robert H. Curtin. This award is an esteemed honor bestowed upon only the most distinctively accomplished CE units.

SAME recently recognized the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron with the 2021 Curtin Award for the reserve component, confirming what many in the Hoosier Wing already suspected, Grissom’s CES is the best in the Air Force Reserve Command.

The 434th CES is composed of five military and five civilian flights. The military flights include: operations, explosive ordinance disposal, readiness and emergency management, fire emergency services, and engineering. The civilian flights include: environmental, engineering, real property, readiness and emergency management, and fire emergency services.

“Being selected for this award has been a great honor for our organization, and is an accomplishment that truly reflects credit to all 172 military and 89 civilian personnel over the past year,” said Master Sgt. Edward Black, 434th CES operations superintendent.

According to Black, this award is well-deserved recognition for the hard work and dedication to excellence in installation support and engineering, expeditionary and emergency services support, training, unit and community relations, and the commander programs, provided by the 434th CES, all while dealing with a global pandemic.

There were many significant accomplishments by CES last year. Some of the highlights include:

  • EOD personnel partnered with the Secret Service to provide over 4,000 work-hours in protection details for the President and Vice-President of the United States,  ensuring safety for them and their executive staff.
  • The civilian fire department was accredited by Fire Accreditation International and ranked in the top 10 percent of all fire departments in North America.
  • Fire Chief John Ireland was recognized as Indiana’s Fire Chief of the Year for 2021.
  • Their traditional reservist fire fighters developed the first Department of Defense firefighting rescue and survival course that is hosted at Grissom.
  • The civilian engineers contributed greatly to the modernization of the base by upgrading fuel systems, airfield lighting, aircraft maintenance facilities, and taxiways.
  • Installation emergency manager, Robert Wydock, and the emergency management team drove the wing’s chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear training by instructing 748 airmen in a 15-month time period, mitigating the backlog caused by COVID-19 restrictions, and increasing deployment readiness.


Of all the accomplishments in 2021, Black noted that he is especially proud of the 16 volunteers who provided backfill efforts for seven mobilizations, bolstering the Air Force’s combat capabilities in four combatant commands.

“Having a highly trained ‘reserve ready force’ that can deploy at a moment’s notice is vital to national security,” said Black. “I would like to thank and give praise to our supporting organizations on base when it comes to deploying members down range “

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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