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Frontiers May 2014 Issue

Frontiers May 2014 23 Gary Gruwell SUPPORTS MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY BASED AT FORT GREELY, ALASKA Located southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, Fort Greely is home to grizzly bears, moose, wolves— and a ground-based missile defense complex to defend the U.S. against long-range ballistic missile attacks. Winter temperatures tend to hover a little below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius), though they have, from time to time, dropped to 60 below (-51 Celsius). High winds create snowdrifts and can cause extreme wind chills. Daylight is scarce in the winter, but plentiful during the summer. Gary Gruwell, a Boeing field service representative, has lived at Fort Greely since 2002, part of the Boeing team there that supports the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, for which Boeing is the prime contractor. His customer is the Missile Defense Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Defense. “I get to live a remote, rural-type lifestyle and still go to work each day in a challenging aerospace job,” Gruwell said. “That doesn’t happen too often.” Gruwell, a Global Services & Support representative at Fort Greely, is responsible for maintaining power production and distribution. He is also involved in maintaining specialty equipment used at the site. While the complex has access to commercial power, it has two Boeing-designed power plants for use in emergencies. He leads a team of 15 electricians, generator technicians, and power control and monitoring system operators. They monitor system health and operations around the clock, 365 days a year. They try to schedule projects so outdoor work takes place in warmer weather, but that’s not always possible. When Gruwell first went to Fort Greely in 2002, his job was to help convert a closed U.S. Army base into a missile defense complex. Today, the base is in full operation, with modern facilities. There are also amenities for the people working there, including a well-stocked PX (post exchange, or store) and a gymnasium. About a year ago, Gruwell bought a hay farm, which he operates as a side business. He also maintains a kennel for older rescue dogs that have difficulty living in the cold climate. He is preparing to build a greenhouse on his property, which he will use for gardening. Sometimes he travels to California to see his grown children and other family members. “In the summer, if I’m not on the farm or with the dogs, I’m off hunting, fishing, rafting or backpacking,” Gruwell said. “I really love our small community, and spending time with the people who live here.” n PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS


Frontiers May 2014 Issue
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