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Leading Boyz

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, dig a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 16. Dirt Boyz are trained to operate many different types of heavy machinery, such as excavators, backhoes, asphalt rollers and airfield sweepers. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, dig a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 16. Dirt Boyz are trained to operate many different types of heavy machinery, such as excavators, backhoes, asphalt rollers and airfield sweepers. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The foundation is for a modular building addition for the 56th Rescue Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The foundation is for a modular building addition for the 56th Rescue Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The Dirt Boyz work on a range of projects ranging from road maintenance to construction and demolition. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The Dirt Boyz work on a range of projects ranging from road maintenance to construction and demolition. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The foundation is for a modular building addition for the 56th Rescue Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

The Dirt Boyz, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment Airmen, work on a foundation at RAF Lakenheath, England, Aug. 18. The foundation is for a modular building addition for the 56th Rescue Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Abby L. Finkel)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The 48th Civil Engineer Squadron’s pavements and construction equipment Airmen, known as the Dirt Boyz, aren’t afraid to work hard and get a little dirty to keep the base running smoothly.

The Dirt Boyz’s work can be seen all over base, with projects ranging from road maintenance to construction and demolition.

On these projects, it’s not just the noncommissioned officers taking the lead. Senior airmen are given leadership roles on smaller jobs, for example repairing sections of sidewalks or filling potholes.

Each opportunity gives a Dirt Boyz senior airman the chance to hone his skills as a leader.

“When they get to senior airman, they’re going to start leading,” said Tech. Sgt. Frank Cavaliere, 48th CES pavements and construction equipment NCO in charge. “They’ll become NCOs down the line, so we try to give them more responsibility.”

If a senior airman does well on one of the smaller jobs, they are given even more responsibility.

For Senior Airman Anthony Schelbrack, 48th CES pavements and construction equipment journeyman, that meant making the leap from leading a small sidewalk repair job to leading a crew building the foundation for a modular building at the 56th Rescue Squadron.

“It was my first big job,” Schelbrack said. “I was excited and eager to see how the progress would go and see how what I’ve learned before can come into play with my leadership skills.”

He was given three days to complete the foundation. Throughout the process, he had to not only manage his time and the Airmen working under him, but also deal with any issues that arose.

“It preps us for taking a future higher role in staff or above,” Schelbrack said. “Once you hit staff, you need to know all the steps and what to do, or how to find the answers.”

Although the senior airmen take lead on these projects, they aren’t left completely on their own. NCOs are always around to evaluate, assist and provide feedback to the new leaders.

“[We like to see that] they have the initiative to lead, strong leadership qualities, a strong work ethic, things like that,” Cavaliere said. “That’s what we want in this career field. We want someone who has that drive to get things done.”

By providing guided leadership opportunities for senior airmen, the Dirt Boyz are paving the way to develop successful NCOs of the future.