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Cleaning up with dirty jobs

Cleaning up1.jpgFor several years Mike Rowe skyrocketed to success by performing a series of difficult, strange, and disgusting occupations on his Discovery Channel show, “Dirty Jobs.” 


Although there is much less fanfare, the 172d Airlift Wings Staff Sgt. Michael Hamilton is also making a career of doing jobs that others may shy away from.


The Mississippi Air National Guardsman is a water and fuel systems maintenance specialist in the 172d AWs Civil Engineer Squadron.


That assignment makes him responsible for being able to install, inspect, maintain, and troubleshoot plumbing, water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment systems, as well as natural gas and liquid fuel storage and dispensing, and more. 


Whether performed at Jacksons Thompson Field or at a deployed location, these duties often put Hamilton in a messy situation.


“A lot of people dont want to come into contact with stuff I have to work on,” Hamilton said.  “Sometimes I have to clear stoppages out of sewer lines and urinals. You dont want that mess to get on you, but sometimes it does.”


One might think that this would be the last type of Air Force job that an individual would sign up for. Hamilton, however, actually cross-trained from his electrical power position within the wing to his current Air Force Specialty Code.


“Its actually an awesome career field to be in,” said the nine-year Guardsmen, who is married and expecting his first child.


“Instead of spending your time flipping a lot of switches, you get to go out and put your hands on things,” Hamilton said.


Hands on opportunities for members of the wings civil engineer squadron extend far beyond the local projects they work on. Its Airmen have recently completed overseas deployments in Kuwait and have completed construction projects in Australia. 


 “We work hard, but we get to do a lot of cool things as well,” said 172nd CES Unit Training Manager Master Sgt. Kimberly Varnell, who emphasized that there are plenty of morale-building moments as well.


“On our way to Australia, we had stops in Guam and Hawaii,” Varnell said. “Because of these assignments, a lot of our Airmen get to see places they might not have been able to ever see otherwise.”


Another benefit associated with skills gained by Hamilton and other members of the wings CES are how they correspond with careers on the civilian side for the traditional Guardsmen.

   “Our members are getting a trade that you dont get from some of the positions we have,” said Varnell, who also serves as the squadrons Prime Base Emergency    Engineering Force Manager. “There is a big need in our communities for skills we develop here. Whether youre a plumber, do fuel system work, or another one of our jobs, you can make money with those skills.”

Revised: 1/9/2017 5:57