Delaware Air Guard sending 30 civil engineer Airmen to northernmost inhabited location in Canada near the North Pole for training mission

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  • By 020711
The Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing is sending 30 Airmen from the unit's 166th Civil Engineer Squadron to Canadian Forces Alert Station, Canada for a two-week annual training mission, departing this Sunday from New Castle. The majority of the unit Airmen participating in the training mission are part-time professionals with a background in the construction trades.

Alert Station is the northernmost permanently inhabited place nearest the North Pole (500 miles away), and is operated by the Canadian Air Force, with various civilian scientists stationed there conducting research. About 60 people, military and civilian combined, work at Alert Station.

The 166th CES's mission is to provide Prime BEEF (Base Engineer Emergency Force) personnel capable of deploying anywhere in the world, including bare bases, to support aircraft operations with bed-down, rapid runway repair, operations, maintenance support, and crash/fire suppression activities. The squadron provides the resource protection, environmental quality, infrastructure/facility maintenance and repair, and human services necessary to support the wing or Air Force mission. Over the last decade squadron personnel deployed to Mississippi in support of Hurricane Katrina relief, to Arizona along the U.S.-Mexico border in support of Operation Jumpstart, and to Kuwait, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Our 166th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen have a strong track record conducting a variety of civil engineer construction and maintenance missions throughout both hemispheres, and can operate in any kind of climate," said Col. Jonathan H. Groff, wing commander, 166th Airlift Wing. "While we are sweating it out in the Mid-Atlantic States, our civil engineers will head to the freezing arctic near the North Pole donning winter parkas."

This past January, 28 members of the 166th CES completed a six-month combat zone deployment to Southwest Asia, to include Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, the largest and longest deployment in squadron history.

One Airman on the Alert Station, Canada mission, his final before retiring later this year, is Chief Master Sgt. Ron Marandola, superintendent of the 166th CES and a resident of Gibbstown, N.J. "It'll be a nice way to end my career. I want to be with my Airmen, and can't stand it when I do not deploy with my unit," said Chief Marandola, who has deployed with his unit around the world for four decades. "I only wish I could bring a golf club," said Chief Marandola, an avid golfer and member of the Delaware Air National Guard's golf league.

This will be the last mission to Alert Station before aircraft traffic shuts down this winter. The trip normally takes at least a full day or more via C-130 transport aircraft, with at least one refueling stop en route.

The flying distance from the Delaware Air Guard base to Alert Station is 5,366 kilometers (3,334 miles), if taking a route from New Castle Airport, Delaware to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then to Thule Air Force Base, Greenland, and finally to Alert Station, Canada.

CFS Alert is situated on the north eastern tip of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in the territory of Nunavut. It is found at 82° 30' North latitude, and 62° 19' West longitude. It is only 817 kilometers (508 miles) from the geographic North Pole.

The station's motto, in the Inuit language, Inuktitut, is INUIT NUNANGATA UNGATA, meaning "Beyond the Inuit land". The motto signifies that no-one, including the Inuit, has been known to go and permanently live as far north as Alert, except as Canadian Forces, National Defense or other federal employees posted there.

From approximately April 8 to Sept. 5, there is absolutely no night time. During the summer months, CFS Alert experiences about 28 frost-free days. The temperature rises to an average daily high of approximately 10° Celsius (50° Fahrenheit), with 20° Celsius being the record high. In July, the warmest month, the daily mean is 4° Celsius (39° Fahrenheit). During the winter the temperature typically hovers around -40° Celsius for extended periods; the record low is -50° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit).

According to a Canadian Air Force history timeline, Canadian Forces Station Alert was named after a British ship, Her Majesty's Ship Alert, which wintered in a small bay near Cape Sheridan, east of Alert, in 1875-1876.

This expedition, an effort to reach the North Pole, was the first to reach the uninhabited Ellesmere Island and came further north than any other expedition to that time. CFS Alert was first established in 1950 as a Joint Arctic Weather Station site. The weather station still exists, run today by Environment Canada. On Sept. 1, 1958, Alert began its operational role as a signals intelligence unit of the Canadian Forces. On April 1, 2009, the Station became part of the Canadian Air Force and a unit of 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. On Nov. 8, 2009, the CFS Alert "Chosen Frozen" ran a segment of the Olympic Torch Relay Run at CFS Alert.

Canadian Air Force weather, history and motto source:

The Delaware ANG has 1,100 members, and continually deploys personnel and subordinate units around the globe.

This release is in the public domain, and any part may be used as written.

Delaware Air National Guard:
Celebrating 65 years of Citizen-Airman service to our state and nation, 1946-2011
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