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202nd EIS
Lt. Col William "Bill" Lipko, 202nd EIS detachment commander, shows where he plans to hang the unit logo in the new multi purpose training room. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp
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202nd EIS settling in to new home at Robins

Posted 10/21/2011   Updated 10/21/2011 Email story   Print story


by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/21/2011 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The move was an emotional one for the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron of the Georgia Air National Guard, which officially made Robins its new home Sept. 1.

For the past 59 years, unit members had called the six-acre compound at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport home. Its facilities in Macon, which included a building dated from World War II, were a comfortable reminder of generations of memories.

"We left a lot of history out there, but we got a serious upgrade," said Lt. Col. Bill Lipko, detachment commander. "We're here, and we love it."

Lipko was referring to the squadron's new accommodations, currently in a move-in phase in the former 116th Air Control Wing headquarters. The move was the result of a 2005 BRAC announcement.

Offices and work stations throughout the building are filled with dozens of boxes, equipment and furniture. Lipko estimated it can take up to a year for everything to be properly configured.

If you're not familiar with the 202nd EIS - one of 16 such squadrons throughout ANG - its team of enlisted and officer engineers, drafting, cable and electronics professionals design and install communications infrastructure. A few of their duties include building antennas, towers, fiber optics, and surveillance, access control and intrusion detection systems anywhere in the world.

Of the squadron's 111 current members, 42 are deployed fulfilling a six-month requirement for both Joint Expeditionary and U.S. Air Forces Central Command taskings. Some will start coming home this month, with all due back by November.

"The interesting thing that we're doing in our community - and for the first time in its history - is we're working for the Army," said Lipko.

The 202nd is part of a rotation with two other Guard units currently in Afghanistan working alongside the Army's 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, Task Force Spartan.

A total of 79 in this particular group, Task Force 300, are being led by the 202nd squadron commander, Lt. Col. Doug Walker.

Although the unit has been deploying since Sept. 11, Lipko noted that working for the Army has opened up a new experience by being outside the wire at forward operating bases where attacks can happen at any time.

"We're doing the same job we've always done, but in a different environment," he said. "Our Airmen attended the same Combat Skills Training as their Army counterparts prior to this deployment."

Among its many roles, the 202nd takes care of communications infrastructure for 27 other locations, including 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, and ANG units in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Always active in the community, they also assisted with other Guard units during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the 1994 flood in Macon and Hurricane Katrina.

In the last few years, a few interesting activities included establishing radio sites in Incirlik, Turkey, which helped extend communications for the airlift mission into Iraq, as well as building low-frequency antennas in the Azores, complete with 12 100-foot towers.

Now settling into three locations at Robins - with its administrative wing in Bldg. 2078 - work stations in one area sit empty. The squadron's entire section of drafting and engineering personnel is overseas.

A multipurpose training room is teeming with furniture, cabinets, plaques, trophies, boxes overflowing with squadron memorabilia, and posters depicting photos dating to the 1950s.

Lipko added that it can take time to verbally communicate exactly what the squadron's many accomplishments and duties are, so plans are to help tell the 202nd story through pictures. He wants to make their new home a showcase just like it was at their old location.

"We are transplanting our history. Those pictures really mean a lot to us," he said. "Once all members return, we will begin preparing for an operational readiness and unit compliance inspection, and settling into our new life at Robins."

Time in the states will be short - once the inspections are complete; it will be time to deploy and do it all over again.

Just like its squadron patch says, "Global Technicians, Anytime-Anywhere."

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