GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Westhampton Beach, NY. --
32 members from the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing’s Civil Engineer Squadron and five members from the 106th Force Support Squadron here deployed for training June 4 to June 17, 2017, at Crow Agency, Montana, in an effort to build and renovate homes for military service veterans from the Native American tribe Crow Nation.
The training provided the members of Civil Engineer Squadron to do foundational and structural work like framing walls and putting on roofs, while other members dug trenches, ran plumbing and electric wires, which is something they would do on a deployed mission, said Master Sgt. Lindy K. Ross, a 106th Civil Engineer Squadron production controller.
“This is our upgrade training and our qualification for all of our trades,” said Ross. “It’s pretty rare that our drill status guardsmen get the opportunity to do full construction like this from the foundation up. It’s a really good experience for a lot of our new members who have not deployed before.”
The project started in May and will end in September of this year, said Ross. In two-week rotations, 40 to 60 members from National Guard Civil Engineer Squadron throughout the country will deploy to help renovate and build six homes that were left unfinished in various stages by a contractor.
“You can literally do a time lapse video of, ‘here’s where we started with just the foundation and by the time we left, we had windows installed, the roof on, and the walls up,’” said Ross. “That was pretty impressive, to see them go start to finish on a project like that.”
The work did not come without challenges.
“The six existing homes were actually started seven years ago by a different contractor and left in various stages,” said Ross. “It was difficult figuring out what was existing and what was done before because that contractor from seven years ago wasn’t there for us to talk to.”
Working in a different part of the country presented an additional challenge. There were different terms for materials, different requirements, different laws and codes that the team had to overcome.
In an effort to keep the continuity, the team would meet at the end of each day to make sure they had everything in order and to double check the materials list so the work could keep going, said Ross.
Civil Engineer Squadron often worked nine hour days, sometimes longer, and slept on cots in a 12 person tent, said Airman 1st Class Jonathan D. De Jesus, a 106th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power production apprentice.
“It was tedious work,” said De Jesus. “But the job needed to get done at the end of the day.”
During the training, FSS deployed their Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer which provided much needed relief for the members of Civil Engineer Squadron.
“Thanks to services,” said De Jesus. “They were there with us, and they had their own trailer they would cook three hot meals a day.”
The main goal was to make sure our personnel had valuable training, but also had a good two weeks, said Ross.
“For civil engineering, this was one of the best deployments we’ve had,” said Ross. “A lot of our members had a lot of good skills learned out of this. They had a lot of upgrade training requirements taken care of, but more importantly we all had a good time and no one was injured, no safety issues, there were no challenges that we couldn’t overcome.”