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Citizen Airmen continue 19-year connection with the community

Senior non-commissioned officers, or the “Top III,” from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, family members, and other Airmen assigned to the unit at Eielson AFB, Alaska volunteered to pick up trash along the Richardson Highway between Eielson and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Senior non-commissioned officers, or the “Top III,” from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, family members, and other Airmen assigned to the unit at Eielson AFB, Alaska volunteered to pick up trash along the Richardson Highway between Eielson and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Senior non-commissioned officers, or the “Top III,” from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, family members, and other Airmen assigned to the unit at Eielson AFB, Alaska volunteered to pick up trash along the Richardson Highway between Eielson and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Senior non-commissioned officers, or the “Top III,” from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, family members, and other Airmen assigned to the unit at Eielson AFB, Alaska volunteered to pick up trash along the Richardson Highway between Eielson and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Master Sgt. Ella Doak, Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Morrissey, Senior Airman Casey Franich, and Master Sgt. Tina Rabjohns from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, work together to pick up trash and debris along the northbound side of the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The wing’s Top III Council, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Master Sgt. Ella Doak, Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Morrissey, Senior Airman Casey Franich, and Master Sgt. Tina Rabjohns from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, work together to pick up trash and debris along the northbound side of the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The wing’s Top III Council, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Zach Evans, son of Senior Airman Laura Evans, waits for his mom and Staff Sgt. Jeff Davidson from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, to catch up as they worked together to pick up trash and debris along the southbound side of the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Zach Evans, son of Senior Airman Laura Evans, waits for his mom and Staff Sgt. Jeff Davidson from the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, to catch up as they worked together to pick up trash and debris along the southbound side of the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. The 168th’s Top III, and at least 12 other organizations that work on Eielson, are active in the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program and are helping keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Chief Master Sgt. Phil Hunt and Master Sgt. James Meyer get ready to cross over the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. They and almost 20 other members of the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, plus a few family members, volunteered to pick up trash along the Top III Council’s adopted mile of the highway, part of  Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program, which helps keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

Chief Master Sgt. Phil Hunt and Master Sgt. James Meyer get ready to cross over the Richardson Highway between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks, Alaska on September 29, 2016. They and almost 20 other members of the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, plus a few family members, volunteered to pick up trash along the Top III Council’s adopted mile of the highway, part of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program, which helps keep approximately 26 miles of the highway clean.

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- With falling winter temperatures and snow in the forecast, Airmen from the 168th Wing's Top III Council here knew they had to act fast before their window closed the chance to uphold their 19-year history of participation with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Adopt-A-Highway program.

"Your group has had its adopted mile of the Richardson Highway [Mile 353-354] since May 1997," said Betsy Hess, publications specialist with the Northern Region Public Information Office.

Eielson AFB and Fairbanks are connected by 26 miles of the Richardson Highway, and according to Hess there are at least 13 different groups from Eielson who are active in the program.

Master Sgt. Pete Smith, repair and reclamation shop chief with the wing's maintenance squadron, put out the call for volunteers.

"You, your buddy and anyone from your work area who is free to come on down and give a hand," said Smith.

On the day of the cleanup Smith had more than 20 Airmen and family members on the crew.

"This one won't take too long as the highway looks pretty clear, and please remember to wear sensible shoes as you will be walking on uneven gravel surfaces," said Smith.
 
Hess said that volunteers are 11 or older for safety reasons.

With cars passing at 60 mph within feet of the volunteers it is easy to understand why those younger are not working along the highway. Richardson Highway speeds that close might as well be 100.

North Pole is just 12 miles north of Eielson and where the Top III Council's mile of highway begins.

The DOT & PF provides safety training resources, safety vests, and trash bags. Groups agree to remove litter from their adopted stretch a minimum of three times a year.

"I was doing this for a lot of years before I got smart and realized I didn't have to bend over to pick the stuff up," said Chief Master Sgt. Phil Hunt, the wing's command chief, as he wielded his industrial-strength grabber.

It took the group of volunteers less than an hour to complete the cleanup of their section of the highway, filling up the trailer connected to Smith's pickup with bright yellow trash bags and a few large pieces of debris.

"Yeah, that went pretty quick," said Smith. This is one of the best things we do, and people from the wing really like coming out here, but it is already starting to get cold and they're forecasting snow, so we really couldn't have waited much longer."


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