AAFB Airman digs 97 CES ‘dirt boy’ role

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman John Mason is the type of guy who loves getting his hands dirty. As a 97th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and equipment operator journeyman, or "dirt boy," for the past three years, Mason feels he has found a passion.

 Mason went into the Air Force recruiting office not knowing exactly what he wanted to do. His recruiter mentioned the dirt boyz, which inspired Mason to sign on the dotted line. Now, Mason says he would not have wanted any other job.

“I really do like my job a lot,” he said. “I don't think I would want any other job. I am more of a hands-on person, so building something myself and seeing the finished product is a great feeling.”

Dirt boyz complete jobs across Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, including building flood gates, paving new roads, and repairing broken pipes. Mason enjoys every aspect of it because it helps maintain the 97th Air Mobility Wing mission to train exceptional mobility Airmen.

“It feels good to know that we are saving the base money,” said Mason. “But it feels better to know that we are helping the mission by making sure pilots safely land the aircraft on the runways we upkeep.”

Staff Sgt. Ryan Uhing, 97th CES non-commissioned officer-in-charge of pavements and equipment, has been Mason’s supervisor for his entire time at Altus. He explained the great work-ethic he sees from Mason every day.

“From day one Mason has shown passion and initiative in our career field,” he said. “He has never declined a challenging work task, and has always done his best to complete a job by thinking outside of the box. He has consistently gone above and beyond what is expected from his rank.”

While at Altus AFB, Mason was tasked with a deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, where he spent six months maintaining the base, building new structures and supporting Operations Allies Welcome.

“During my deployment I was able to help with the Afghanistan evacuation,” said Mason. “I put up tents and maintained their living spaces. Seeing how they lived, it changed my perspective on our lives (in America) and it humbled me.” 

After returning from deployment, he met his now wife, Sadiee.

“My wife is my biggest motivator,” said Mason. “I would not get up on time in the mornings without her. We spend a lot of time together when I am not working and she is what I look forward to the most.”

Mason was recently coined by Brig. Gen. Brian S. Hartless, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, for taking lead on a project that required Mason to work in confined spaces to remove concrete, rebar and soil to repair an underground fire suppression line.