By Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — He begins to climb, hand over hand, rung by rung. The adrenaline builds the higher he gets. When he reaches the top, he hooks himself in, gazes out over the nearby scenery and waits for everyone else to catch up.
Climbing towers is not the only part of his job. Airman 1st Class Nicholas Ray is a 21st Communications Squadron cable and antenna maintenance technician, a job he says he enjoys because of the hands-on experience he gets.
“I joined the Air Force because it’s a family tradition,” Ray said. “I also joined for the experience and hands on experience I would get in the cable and maintenance career field.”
His career field is absolutely vital to the mission. Everything in today’s age is high-tech and online. If anything were to go wrong with the ability to communicate with others, Ray would be one of the Airmen to respond.
“Simply put, anything that links people together to help them communicate, that’s what we do,” he explained.
When there are new offices being built, Ray and his crew install the new lines to get each workstation up and running. This includes running distribution cables into the communication room of the building and then running lines to each desk. He said before they are done, they “tone back” to verify the line is working.
“Here at Peterson, a lot of our work is putting new lines in offices and that sort of thing, but that’s not all we do,” Ray said.
The basic upkeep of base infrastructure is their duty, including climbing towers to install antennas or working in manholes to make sure connections aren’t causing interference in communication and are safe.
“Tower climbing is my favorite part of this job,” Ray said. “There’s such an adrenaline rush with being 100 feet in the air attached to a metal frame,” he said, adding that the climbing jobs are highly coveted.
No matter the excitement that comes with climbing towers and the view they get, safety is a large part of what they do.
“Safety is probably the most important part of our job,” Ray said. “It’s our job to keep you connected, but we have to do it safely. We follow (Air Force Instruction) 91-203 closely so we’re safe while climbing or doing other parts of our job.”
Besides the view he gets when at the top of the antenna towers, Ray said the reason he enjoys his career field is because he isn’t always sitting at a desk. Technically they are reactive and respond to connectivity issues, but maintaining base infrastructure is a busy job every day.
“When we’re out working on a job, the day goes by so fast because we’re always doing something,” he said.
Ultimately, Ray and his crew are the experts. They know the ins and outs of everything dealing with connectivity and communication.