A parade of snowplows signals the start of winter at JBER

Families on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were treated to an annual spectacle on Monday morning as snowplows, sweepers and giant snowblowers took to the streets for the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron’s snow parade. Children waved at the huge machines while drivers honked their horns and tossed candy to the crowd.

Every year, the parade serves as a celebration of the start of winter, but this year the snow removal operators had something extra to celebrate. For the ninth time, the 773rd won the Balchen/Post award for outstanding achievement in airport snow and ice control, a national award given annually by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives.

“This award recognizes all of our hard work that we do here at JBER,” said Frank Hacecky, airfield clearing equipment operator supervisor. “We have the right equipment and the right people for the job. That’s why JBER never closes.”

Hacecky’s team has over 60 pieces of equipment, and he says that on an average day they will use anywhere from 20-25 to clear the runway.

Clearing a runway quickly is an essential, if unglamorous, component of the JBER mission, but it’s a job not lost on the pilots there. F-22 Raptor pilot Ryan Enlow was there with his wife Heidi and their two young children Jaden, 3, and Traylie, 6 months.

“It’s a pretty awesome job that they do, and they’re pretty fast too,” said Enlow. “It’s hugely important. We don’t lift a wheel without these guys clearing everything for us.”

Loren Holmes

Loren Holmes is a staff photojournalist at the Anchorage Daily News. Contact him at