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Runway repair concludes, fighters return early

U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, 13th Fighter Squadron commander, children run to greet him after returning home from a temporary duty location at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2017. Moeller and his team of 13th FS pilots returned from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to a newly refurbished airfield executed by the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron and their host nation counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller's, 13th Fighter Squadron commander, children run to greet him after returning home from a temporary duty location at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2017. Moeller and his team of 13th FS pilots returned from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to a newly refurbished airfield executed by the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron and their host nation counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Doyle Pompa, the 35th Operations Groups vice commander, meets with his family after returning home from a temporary duty location at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2017. The 13th Fighter Squadron and 35th Maintenance Group personnel trained with Airmen from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, while the flight line underwent routine maintenance. During their tenure at Kunsan, 35th Fighter Wing pilots enhanced readiness capabilities while training in unfamiliar territories with our allies within the Pacific Air Forces region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Doyle Pompa, the 35th Operations Groups vice commander, meets with his family after returning home from a temporary duty location at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2017. The 13th Fighter Squadron and 35th Maintenance Group personnel trained with Airmen from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, while the flight line underwent routine maintenance. During their tenure at Kunsan, 35th Fighter Wing pilots enhanced readiness capabilities while training in unfamiliar territories with our allies within the Pacific Air Forces region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

Japanese contractors conduct routine maintenance on the airfield at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 18, 2017. The runway become fully operational June 26, more than a week ahead of schedule. This gave the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons along with 35th Maintenance Group personnel the opportunity to return home to their friends and family early, while also displaying their abilities to move entire squadrons across the Pacific with little notice.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Japanese contractors conduct routine maintenance on the airfield at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 18, 2017. The runway become fully operational June 26, more than a week ahead of schedule. This gave the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons along with 35th Maintenance Group personnel the opportunity to return home to their friends and family early, while also displaying their abilities to move entire squadrons across the Pacific with little notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Japanese contractors conduct routine maintenance on the airfield at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 18, 2017. The runway become fully operational June 26, more than a week ahead of schedule. The construction repaired degrading asphalt, spanning 1,463 meters, solidifying the 35th Fighter Wing to continue projecting power within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and supporting its allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

Japanese contractors conduct routine maintenance on the airfield at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 18, 2017. The runway become fully operational June 26, more than a week ahead of schedule. The construction repaired degrading asphalt, spanning 1,463 meters, ensuring the 35th Fighter Wing continues projecting power within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and supporting its allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Hutto)

MISAWA AIR BASE, JAPAN --

After nearly two months of construction, Misawa Air Base’s runway became fully operational more than a week ahead of schedule, June 26, and both fighter squadrons returned home.

Due to teamwork between the entire 35th Fighter Wing, Pacific Air Forces and host nation construction companies, military and civilian aircraft can conduct missions safely into the future and Airmen came home early to friends and family.

"This year's runway project is the culmination of more than 10 years of planning and multiple phases accomplished over the last several years,” said Col. Christopher Parrish, the 35th Mission Support Group commander throughout construction. It has been a tremendous team effort between 35th Civil Engineer, Contracting, Security Forces and Logistics Readiness Squadrons along with host nation construction companies and numerous other stakeholders.”

Prior to the project, the base procured funding to consolidate two years of work into one, avoiding another runway closure in 2018.

“Not only was the project completed eight days early this year, it was completed an entire year early as we combined next year's planned work into this year's closure," said Parrish.

The 35th FW generates a large number of sorties for its power projection role within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, inciting the need for one major repair composed of two projects, totaling approximately $9.5 million. The projects repaired the degrading asphalt, spanning roughly 1,463 meters across the main runway.

“We did not just get a brand new runway; we have a battle-ready airfield ready to support an air power projection platform in the Pacific to defend against any threat,” said Maj. Lionel Lanuza, the 35th CES operations officer. “No single entity can take full credit; it was a team effort at every echelon and I am proud of our success.”

The completion presented the opportunity to bring jets and supporting personnel home early from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, but not without a lot of work and communication throughout PACAF, explained Lt. Col Kevin Lord, the 35th Operations Support Group commander.

"Although difficult, we essentially moved the entire warfighting capability of the wing from two different locations back to home station within a week," continued Lord. "This shows the flexibility of Misawa AB and our ability to rapidly deploy forces with little to no warning."

Ultimately, construction success and the wing's flexibility enabled both fighter squadrons to get back to their families after over two months on the road.

"We're ecstatic about getting our Airmen back from their temporary duty locations in Korea and Alaska in time for the July 4th weekend so they can spend it with their loved ones and the entire Misawa community," said Parrish.

Lord described that Col R. Scott Jobe, 35th FW commander, instills throughout his team that if you take care of your people, they'll take care of the mission.

"The importance of Independence Day and time off with families is invaluable in demonstrating to the men and women of the 35th FW how much they are valued," said Lord. "It was in our control to build a plan to bring everyone home early, so we pressed fast and made it happen."

The U.S. military, Patriot Express, Japan Air Self Defense Force, and commercial flights will resume normal operations early July.