Sweating it out in Guam

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashlyn J. Correia
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
A long way from their home station, Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire Guardsmen from the 157th Civil Engineering Squadron and 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron continued the construction of the Commando Warrior Field Training facility, during their deployment for training here, as part of the Air National Guard Troop Training Project, June 18 - July 3.

The Air National Guard Troop Training Project allowed guard units from across the country to work on the construction sites across the world as part of their annual training and hone in on skills they might not otherwise have the opportunity to practice at home station.

"It was a large project that had a lot of AFSCs [Air Force Specialty Code career fields] involved in it," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Foster, the civil engineering manager. "Sometimes a project might be a little heavier on one aspect, but this is a very well rounded project."

The various career fields included Operations Management, Structural, Water Fuels Management, Heavy Equipment, Power Production, Heating Ventalation and Air Conditioning, and Electical Systems.

According to Tech. Sgt. Randy Smith, the NCO in charge of the structures shop, the unit primarily worked on two concrete block wall enclosures, called concrete masonry units, which will eventually house air conditioning units.

"This is actually a start-to-finish concrete block wall that we have never done before, it's excellent training," said Smith. "This is something that our guys learn in tech school, but after that, we don't get much training on it."

The electrical team pulled more than 1.5 miles of electric wiring through conduits previous guard units had placed, as well as hung 24 lighting fixtures, said Master Sgt. Cesar Rivera, the NCO in charge of the electrical shop.

The water fuels maintenance team redesign the existing layout of a latrine after request had been made for one to be installed in the facility.

"We were tasked with installing latrine facilities and appliances within the facility," said Staff Sgt. William Zurek, a water fuels maintenance journeyman, who noted the team overcame initial challenges to complete the job.

While waiting for materials to be ordered, they helped with other projects to keep the overall project moving forward.

For the heavy equipment operators, it was like playing in a huge sand box. The 'Dirt Boyz', as they are called, bulldozered more than 400,000 square feet of fill in-to a crater to level the land for an air drop training site.

The power production shop trained on generators and aircraft arrest systems with the assistance of Airmen from the 254th Red Horse Squadron, Guam Air National Guard.

Guardsmen from all shops assisted with finishing a roof with an elastomeric coating to protect the building from the Guam weather and to reflect some of the sun light off the structure to help keep it cool inside.

"Our personnel laid more than 24,000 square feet of this coating," said Capt. Erik Minnis, the deployed troop commander.

The project wasn't without setbacks though, but the New Hampshire Airmen overcame it, noted Foster.

"Set backs on projects like this are anticipated," said Foster. "Sometimes you have to work out of your AFSC. It's about being flexible and helping out where you can."

The Airmen learned very quickly that working on an island is a lot different then what they were used to at home station.

"One of the things you encounter is in a deployed environments, and an island environment, we encounter some challenges in regards to material sourcing, tools and equipment," said Minnis. "Because of island realities, we have very limited resources."

For many, this was their first time to Guam and working in such hot and humid conditions.

Daily safety briefings reminded Airmen to utilize a work-rest cycle, drink plenty fluids and apply sunscreen.

"This is my first time deploying for training where I have been the deployed troop commander," said Minnis. "The thing that impressed me the most was the positive attitude and the ability of our guys to work together".

The theme during the training deployment was, "one guard family and total force working together."

"It's an opportunity for all of us, both active duty, guard and reserve, to learn from each other and to share the wealth of knowledge that we have gained over the years," said Minnis.

Members of CE and ATC worked closely with local units, such as the 254th Red Horse Squadron and the 554 RHS, to ensure everyone received training and the job got done.

"The 254th Red Horse Squadron based out of Andersen Air Force Base has been a huge asset for us, they have been very helpful," said Minnis.

Overall the Airmen put in hard work during deployment and left the project in good hands for the next unit.

"I thoroughly appreciate what our members have done, and I learned a lot from them," said Minnis.