436th OSS RAWS keeps Team Dover soaring

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Faith Schaefer
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

On a dark night, rainy afternoon or foggy day, it can be dangerous and difficult to fly or land aircraft. The air traffic control tower communicates with the pilots but someone has to maintain the communication equipment. That’s where the Airmen from the 436th Operations Support Squadron Radar, Airfield and Weather Systems shop answer the call, day or night.

RAWS Airmen at Dover Air Force Base provide the necessary maintenance for over 200 airfield, air traffic control and weather operations navigational aids as well as the supporting equipment.

“This includes all ground-to-air radios, radars and navigation aids for Air Traffic Control, Airfield Management and Command Post,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Waterfield, 436th OSS RAWS section chief. “As well as weather sensors and radars for our base weather flight and National Weather Service counterparts.”

Maintaining this inventory requires RAWS technicians to be experts who work tirelessly around the clock to be able to deliver for the base and surrounding area. Senior Airman Albert Metz, 436th OSS RAWS technician, believes the most important aspects of the job are communication and technical proficiency.

“It is very important to provide proper communication to others whenever we are passing along information to each other about any subject, be that about jobs, maintenance tasks or education about our systems,” said Metz. “Knowledge proficiency about our radar systems and how to maintain them is super critical because that demonstrates how well we know and understand our career field.”

Additionally, the team supports Air Mobility Command’s only Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) located in the surrounding area of the base.

“The Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) provides real-time weather and storm data in support of National Weather Service operations across 11 states and Washington D.C., impacting 58 million American citizens,” said Waterfield.

Overall, the shop maintains more than $12 million worth of equipment in support of flying and weather operations for 436th Airlift Wing, 512th AW, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations and the Department of Defense’s largest aerial port.

“The [RAWS team] are asked to be the experts on a lot of unique systems, and they have answered the call. Sometimes it’s hard for some Airmen to see how their efforts impact the wing, (major command) or Air Force mission,” said Waterfield. “But in RAWS, I’m lucky that my Airmen are able to see the fruits of their labor early and often in their careers. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

The success of the team is not only apparent from their daily work but also their awards. The 436th OSS RAWS shop was awarded Air Mobility Command’s RAWS Team of the year in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.