BELIZE CITY, Belize — Each day is 12 to 14 hours long. It’s hot. It’s humid. And, there is little relief from the elements. He spends most days doing things like moving cement blocks, cutting through concrete and spreading mortar adhesive carefully between each layer of blocks until he and his team reach 15-courses high.
Airman 1st Class Sterling Depew, 820th RED HORSE pavements and heavy equipment operator, deployed from the Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., is currently in Belize as part of the annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored New Horizons exercise.
He’s on his first deployment and is excited to be able to come to a new country to work in a joint environment alongside partner nation militaries. His mission is to assist Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Belize Defence Force engineers in building four school additions and one hospital clinic.
“I love working in a joint environment and communication has been great with the Belizean Defence Force engineers … they are hard-workers and bring knowledge from their experience and ways of doing things in their country,” the Airman said.
Depew, a Dallas native, joined the military 18 months ago to “further his education and to get a steady paycheck.”
He spent a lot of time researching and took some advice from his recruiter, who told him that choosing a job as a civil engineer was a guarantee.
According to Depew, he’s always enjoyed construction.
“I could not sit at a desk,” Sterling said. “I enjoy being outside, working with my hands and just the physical side of work.”
Luckily, Depew had the support of his parents.
“They were all for it,” he said. “My dad is the one who pushed me in the military … I appreciate everything my parents have done for me. They raised me right, and I love them.”
Depew is married to his wife, Chloe, and they are expecting their first child, a son, who is due in November.
He explains that his being gone has been tough for his wife, but “she has the support of her family,” and he talks to her every night so that he can help her to be as stress-free as possible.
“I love her, and I can’t wait to see her and little Chase (his unborn son),” he said.
The first thing he’ll do for his pregnant wife?
“I’m going to massage her feet,” Depew said.