April 29, 2017 / JORDAN VINSON
Meet Joe Rubon. He is one of half a dozen Marshallese citizens whom Kwajalein Range Services hired in recent years to keep the Kiernan Re-entry Measurement System site on target in its mission to monitor space around the Earth for satellites, debris and foreign missile launches.
Rubon works at the ALTAIR radar complex, a place he’s called home for nearly seven years. As an ALTAIR transmitter field engineer, he’s part of the team on which the Reagan Test Site depends to continually perform space operations for the Space and Missile Defense Command. It’s a role he took up last year.
Rubon’s manager in the ALTAIR transmitter area, Engineer Allan Foreman, has seen Rubon rise up through the ranks and calls him one of the smartest and most hardworking and resourceful employees he’s had on Roi-Namur.
“He’s awesome. He was a plumber, and now he’s become very helpful fixing electrical problems,” Foreman said. “He’s really versatile.”
Always motivated to take on new challenges and unafraid to speak his mind to test drive new ideas, he’s what other ALTAIR managers define as the ultimate utility player.
“He’s well versed on the antenna and transmitters,” ALTAIR Transmitter Lead Adam Vail said. “I mean he literally knows the ins and outs of the facility.”
While transmitter operations is Rubon’s primary task at the radar, he also uses his experience from previous professions to fix plumbing and electrical issues. It’s a great resource to have on hand in a place filled with very expensive water-cooled electrical and mechanical components, his bosses said.
Tack on his multilingual skills, his continual effort to maintain the radar complex’s SDS and HAZMAT paperwork and his willingness to take on graveyard shifts and extra hours, and you’ve got an important asset for the ALTAIR team.
“If I had ten Joes, I could get rid of the rest of my workforce,” ALTAIR Sensor Lead Kenny Leines joked. “He’s the kind of guy that, if you could clone him, you would.”
A native of Jaluit Atoll, Rubon has spent most of his life on Enniburr. He got his first job on Roi-Namur, working on a roads and grounds maintenance crew. A three-year stint at the Public Works plumbing department lasted until 2009, after which he became an antenna tech at ALTAIR. From 2010 to 2016, he worked as a transmitter tech at the radar, and it was just last year that KRS promoted him (along with five other RMI citizens) to his current position as a transmitter field engineer.
As for what Rubon thinks about his new role with KRS at ALTAIR? “ALTAIR is a perfect place to work. A great place,” Rubon said. “The only word I can [use to] describe it is epic.”