14th CES recognized as best small unit in the Air Force

Base leaders and community partners discuss possible initiatives Dec. 12, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, during an Air Force Community Partnership meeting. These gatherings help develop new and better ways to benefit the Air Force and the surrounding communities through emergency management, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, downtown shooting range use and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Base leaders and community partners discuss possible initiatives Dec. 12, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, during an Air Force Community Partnership meeting. These gatherings help develop new and better ways to benefit the Air Force and the surrounding communities through emergency management, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, downtown shooting range use and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Airman Michael Cargile, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a shovel to take coals from a fire and place them in a barbeque pit Sept. 29, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB Fire Department hosted a s’mores roast and played an informational video for families during Fire Prevention Week Sept. 25-30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

Airman Michael Cargile, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a shovel to take coals from a fire and place them in a barbeque pit Sept. 29, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB Fire Department hosted a s’mores roast and played an informational video for families during Fire Prevention Week Sept. 25-30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

Members of the 14th Civil Engineer Squadron, 14th Operations Support Squadron and Air Force Civil Engineer Center Airfield and Pavement Evaluation Team survey a hole on the airfield at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 11, 2017. Gary Wright, 14th Flying Training Wing Airfield Manager, was walking along the T-1A Jayhawks parking/taxiway and identified a hole that looked suspicious. The APE Team was able to survey and begin repairing the issue immediately. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Members of the 14th Civil Engineer Squadron, 14th Operations Support Squadron and Air Force Civil Engineer Center Airfield and Pavement Evaluation Team survey a hole on the airfield at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 11, 2017. Gary Wright, 14th Flying Training Wing Airfield Manager, was walking along the T-1A Jayhawks parking/taxiway and identified a hole that looked suspicious. The APE Team was able to survey and begin repairing the issue immediately. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Base leaders and community partners discuss possible initiatives Dec. 12, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, during an Air Force Community Partnership meeting. These gatherings help develop new and better ways to benefit the Air Force and the surrounding communities through emergency management, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, downtown shooting range use and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Base leaders and community partners discuss possible initiatives Dec. 12, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, during an Air Force Community Partnership meeting. These gatherings help develop new and better ways to benefit the Air Force and the surrounding communities through emergency management, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, downtown shooting range use and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Airman Michael Cargile, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a shovel to take coals from a fire and place them in a barbeque pit Sept. 29, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB Fire Department hosted a s’mores roast and played an informational video for families during Fire Prevention Week Sept. 25-30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

Airman Michael Cargile, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a shovel to take coals from a fire and place them in a barbeque pit Sept. 29, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB Fire Department hosted a s’mores roast and played an informational video for families during Fire Prevention Week Sept. 25-30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

Capt. John Kulikowski, Air Force Civil Engineer Center APE Team Branch Chief, from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, inspects a hole on the airfield at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 11, 2017. A void under the T-1A Jayhawk parking ramp was determined to be roughly 50 feet in diameter and almost 4 feet deep, and was a result of water flowing underneath the concrete for many years, eroding the dirt below. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Capt. John Kulikowski, Air Force Civil Engineer Center APE Team Branch Chief, from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, inspects a hole on the airfield at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 11, 2017. A void under the T-1A Jayhawk parking ramp was determined to be roughly 50 feet in diameter and almost 4 feet deep, and was a result of water flowing underneath the concrete for many years, eroding the dirt below. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The 14th Civil Engineer Squadron was notified earlier this month that they were the recipients of the Air Force’s 2017 Outstanding Civil Engineer Small Unit Category for their accomplishments throughout the year.

Under 14th CES Commander, Lt. Col. David Jokinen, the squadron preformed to the highest levels with balancing numerous projects from the wing to the Air Force level while providing innovative ways to be more effective to support the pilot training mission.

“I was very happy for the team, it’s a team effort,” Jokinen said. “I was excited for all the hard work everybody did throughout the year, and I was excited to see everyone’s accomplishments recognized at the highest level.”

There are a lot of things that can happen throughout a year and to consistently perform at such a high level is not a small task, he noted, but it’s a bunch of small successes being brought together which in the end won the squadron this award.

“One thing I’ve really challenged the folks to do is to look at the continuing process of improvement,” Jokinen said. “I think another factor is you have to look at what’s important to the Air Force and your functional community, such as the Next Gen information technology system and how we track work, we weathered through that and got it working.”

Taking time to complete the objectives the Air Force and major commands give wings, squadrons and units directly is a contributing factor to overall success.

“My job was to get all the flight chiefs to write all of their drafts for their areas and I took all of those, strengthened and lengthened those, then once the commander approved all of those, I went through them to make the squadron package,” said Master Sgt. Jason Layfield, 14th CES Superintendent at the time of the awards package creation. “It was a team effort for sure, all the flight chiefs were involved and we had subject matter experts to look for the real defining details and make it strong.”

No individual or single project stood out much more compared to another on the awards package, Layfield and Jokinen said, the small tasks, focusing on recognizing individuals, keeping high morale and the overall drive of the units made the award really what it was.

“Innovation and teamwork were the two big things that lead to our success as not only a unit but as a squadron,” said 1st Lt. Scott Guerin, 14th CES Chief of Projects Execution. “One of the things we did within our flights to help our success [was] set attainable goals. When people have a goal, it’s a lot easier to aim all your efforts toward that goal, and we’ve done it much better this year than in years past.”

Goals the squadron attained included getting the most awarded projects in recent years, switching over to a brand new system to help track and quantify work orders within the squadron, setting the groundwork for a runway project, leading the base’s gym renovations, aided in hundreds of emergencies, and units within the 14th CES were recognized for excellence at various levels.

Over 70 bullets depicted many of the achievements the squadron had throughout the year, showing the range of operations the squadron dealt with in a given year.

“Attitude is contagious,” Jokinen said. “I truly believe that. If you come out with a great attitude and people enjoy coming into work that will breed success because now people want to come to work and execute the mission. I think that’s the key.”