U.S.

June 22, 2012

AFRC program trains warriors to rebuild where needed

Tags:
by Tech. Sgt. Meredith Mingledorff
944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen clear trees with a mini excavator in May at Riverside Christian Academy, Fayetteville, Tenn. The school suffered hundreds of lost trees and damage to several structures prompting civil engineers from Luke Air Force Base, Hill AFB, Utah, and Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., to respond.

Nearly 50 Airmen traveled to Fayetteville, Tenn., in May to rebuild part of the Riverside Christian Academy campus after tornadoes devastated the town last year. The school suffered hundreds of lost trees and damage to several structures prompting civil engineers from Luke Air Force Base, Hill AFB, Utah, and Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., to respond.

Innovative Readiness Training, a program run by Air Force Reserve Command, facilitated the Airmen arriving in Tennessee. The program coordinates with communities, military bases, and Native American tribes, who meet certain legal, fiscal, and project requirements, to schedule Air Force Reserve Civil Engineer units to assist with construction projects.

According to school board chairperson Stephen Elrod, he started the approval process for the IRT program to assist in rebuilding the school in 2006. Despite several years of not being accepted, he now calls the delay a blessing for the school.

“I learned about the IRT program when I was working at the Pentagon as a U.S. Navy Reservist,” he said. “I thought it was a great program and I initiated the paperwork, nominating the school. We were a bit discouraged when we didn’t get selected and for years it didn’t seem like it was going to go anywhere. But the day the equipment finally rolled off the truck was the very same day the tornadoes hit. The Air Force’s timing couldn’t have been better.”

Of course, the Air Force had no way of knowing April 2011 would bring such devastation, but to the people of Alabama and Tennessee, the Airmen were angels in camouflage.

“The Airmen were already on the ground and ready to work, which in itself was a blessing, but our needs changed drastically that day, and unexpectedly they had to reprioritize. We suddenly had more than one unit signing up to support the mission because there were so many different skill sets needed for this project. They said they could meet all their training tasks right here in this one location” Elrod said. “That’s how the 944th Fighter Wing ended up coming on board in May.”

“The IRT program is a win-win,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Harback, 944th Civil Engineer Squadron program analyst. “It provides a much needed service while giving Airmen training and practice in their military career fields. When projects meet the level of training desired by a commander, that unit will commit to it for annual tour. Usually, multiple units will work the project over a time-phased period, giving engineers much needed ‘stick time’ practicing their trade.”

Harback says what his team accomplished in Tennessee closely resembles what they do in a deployed environment, maintaining an established base or bare base operations.

The team had three priorities during their annual tour. The first was to excavate a large multi-acre area of felled trees and top soil, re-establish compaction and grade for drainage and begin backfilling the area. Second, complete much needed preventive maintenance to the electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for the school house. Third, begin block laying for an adjacent field house of showers and locker rooms. The team also placed 18 cubic yards of concrete and some underground plumbing in the new section of the field house.

“Our athletic area was hardest hit,” Elrod said. “There were literally hundreds of trees everywhere. Our dugouts were completely collapsed and the stadium lighting pulled completely out of the ground. It was a mess.”

Work at the sight is on-going and representatives at the school are extremely proud to have America’s Airmen on the job.

“We were already a patriotic town, but having these men and women in uniform here have just made that heartbeat stronger,” Elrod said. “We are so grateful to the U.S. Air Force Reserve for this work and these Airmen. We can’t thank them enough.”

According to Harback, the work is a source of pride for the Airmen as well.

“When our guys go out and apply their trade in a field setting, seeing a tangible result for their efforts makes all the hard work worth it,” he said.

Adding to the heartfelt emotion, Harback said on his first site visit to the school, the children in the cafeteria stood up and applauded the Airmen for their service.

“Seeing that gratitude and feeling the level of respect and appreciation this town has for us just increases the sense of pride and workmanship,” he said. “We are just as grateful to be there, serving our country, as they are to have us.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Pg-3

Honorary commanders bid farewell

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to the outgoing honorary commanders Sept. 17 at Club Five Six. The Honorary Commander Program fosters relationships between local civic and business leaders and base p...
 
 

News Briefs September 26, 2014

CPTS closed The finance office is closed Monday and Thursday. It will be open regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information, call 1st Lt. William Liaw at 623-856-6035. Comprehensive Airman Fitness Comprehensive Airman Fitness Training is Oct. 14 through 16. It is a three-day course for Airmen...
 
 

Thunderbolt of the Week

Senior Airman Jordan Provencher-Olaes 56th Communications Squadron Network infrastructure technician   Hometown: Chandler, Arizona Years in service: Two Family: Parents, Bridget and Rustico Olaes; brothers, Devon and Ethan Provencher Inspirations: My parents gave me the strength and courage to strive in all areas of life; CS leaders’ mentorship has inspired me to be the very...
 

 
Airman 1st Class Cory Gossett

POW/MIA day commemorated at Luke

Airman 1st Class Cory Gossett Members of the 56th Fighter Wing Honor Guard perform the folding of the flag at the conclusion of the POW/MIA retreat ceremony Sept. 19 at Luke Air Force Base. A warm, breezy late summer afternoon ...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Luke Air Force Base held a ceremony to honor America’s prisoners of war and missing in action Sept. 19. There are 83,189 personnel still unaccounted for from conflicts dating back to WWII, according to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office. These numbers represent countless American families who grieve because they do not...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

TAP changes to better prepare Airmen for civilian life

Senior Airman Grace Lee Dawn Reynolds, American Veterans representative, speaks to a Transition Assistance Program class. The Luke Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center Transition Assistance Program has recently und...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin