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Roll Out the Runways
It was almost the middle of March, but it might have been any grey, cold European day. Men of the 818th Engineer Aviation Battalion stood at the side of the steel-surfaced runway and watched the plane settle onto it, and stop. One engineer waved his work gloves, and another his scarred, muddy helmet. It was the first tactical aircraft to land on an American-built airfield in Germany.
Perhaps some of the men wondered why the flat steel planking looked so simple, now that the job was completed. It did not show the 40 craters that had been filled underneath it. It did not show the hundreds and hundreds of yards of crushed rock that made a firm sub-surface beneath it. Nor did it indicate the hours of toil with hand tools that were required before planking could be laid. It looked just like any other "PSP" strip these men had laid down from Normandy through France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Only the gummy, mustard-colored mud oozing over their shoe-tops gave clue to the problems