CTANG civil engineers get it done overseas
By Senior Master Sgt. David Frates, 103rd Deployed Chief Enlisted Manager
/ Published September 17, 2015
HATZOR AIR BASE, Israel -- HATZOR AIR BASE, Israel--Connecticut Air National Guard civil engineers embarked on a Deployment for Training (DFT) over 6,000 miles away to Hatzor Air Base, Israel, in support of Operation JUNIPER COBRA. Over a 19-day deployment in the Mediterranean heat of July, 103rd Prime BEEF engineers worked side-by-side with Airmen from the 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) from Mansfield, Ohio, and Navy Seabees with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 from Gulfport, Miss. The purpose was to construct four 10,000 square foot buildings for use during joint U.S. and Israeli exercises and as a base of operations for real-world contingencies. During the course of six to eight rotations, civil engineer squadrons from the 169th, 103rd and 122nd continue the work of the previous squadrons to keep project goals on target.
The 103rd's part in this $3 million construction project consisted of preparing walls for a concrete pour in one building, bracing and pouring walls for the second, raising the walls on a third, and marking the wall locations for a fourth, all the while ensuring the walls were square and true using the latest engineering practices.
"As with any project of this scope, there were challenges along the way but the joint teamwork was amazing--and they offered solutions to every problem," said Master Sgt. David Surprenant, the 103rd's Project Manager.
The hours were long, hot and full of sweat and sore muscles. Cooperating with people with whom you have never worked can be tricky, but when you add the elements of a sweltering construction site you stretch the limits of geniality. Despite the hard deadlines and humid climate, our engineers focused on collaboration, safety and quality; the results were truly amazing.
"A project of this magnitude really gave our teams an opportunity to show their capabilities. We are very pleased with the teamwork and especially the absence of preventable injuries," said Maj. Henry Chmielinski, 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron commander.
In many respects, their deployment resembled precisely the type of environment our Airmen have faced in the austere conditions of a combat zone. The compound where the Airmen lived and worked consisted of K-span shelters surrounded by concrete barriers, and the entire site was riddled with bunkers for use during the potential attacks by militants' rockets. A marked difference from the typical alert and warning system found in the U.S. was the Israeli's use of a smartphone app called "Red Alert" which sends notifications when rockets are inbound. On July 16, our app informed us of an attack and we were able to see smoke rising from Ashqelon just 10 miles away.
Nearing the end of the deployment, there was a swell of pride from our engineers when the totality of their labors came into view on the construction site, cleaned and ready for the next rotation. All of them understood the purpose for these buildings and the historic partnership we were all tasked to continue building. The fruit of their efforts carry on the tradition of cooperation between our two great countries and solidify our resolve to protect this hallowed ground for generations to enjoy.