For 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 Wing’s
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 AW’s
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 Jackson’s
Thompson Field or at a deployed location, these duties often put Hamilton in a
“A lot of people don’t
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 don’t 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.
“It’s 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
Hands on opportunities for members of the
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.
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 wing’s
CES are how they correspond with careers on the civilian side for the
“Our members are
getting a trade that you don’t get from some of the positions we have,” said
Varnell, who also serves as the squadron’s Prime Base Emergency Engineering Force
Manager. “There is a big need in our communities for skills we develop here.
Whether you’re a plumber, do fuel
system work, or another one of our jobs, you can make money with those skills.”