MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Setting aside their normal summer annual training schedule, Airmen from the 931st Civil Engineer Squadron utilized their training and skills to help a small community in Georgia the past two months.
Beginning May 20, more than 39 members of the McConnell Reserve CES unit took over as the construction team for the new Valley Healthcare Medical and Dental Clinic for a community of 800 in Georgia.
“Their only medical and dental clinic [Valley Healthcare Medical and Dental Clinic] got hit by a tornado earlier this year, and this clinic not only serves the local but also the county,” said Master Sgt. Marina Espinoza, 931 CES first sergeant. “The project was supposed to be built by two other different units, but they declined it last time, so we were able to take on the project.”
The decision to assist the community was made in April by Senior Master Sgt. Howie Burns, who found out about the project after contacting the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program Manager.
The IRT is a DoD program designed to help communities in need. Its main goal is to allow servicemembers future deployment training through assisting communities in need with infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, veterinary care and cybersecurity.
While there, the Airmen spent 24 days working as carpenters outside in the in the heat. Though being a carpenter is part of the training to become a military civil engineer some of the Airmen on the project had limited experience before, and were grateful for the training opportunity.
“CES is composed of different shops but in Georgia, we were all carpenters,” said Espinoza. “This exposed some to new things and helped the Airmen expand their capabilities for future deployments.”
In addition to the training opportunity, Espinoza said the Airmen genuinely enjoyed being able to help the community, and the sense of accomplishment from serving.
“[In 931 CES] we emphasize work hard, play hard, and we end up working well together,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Wentworth, 931 CES Structures NCOIC, and project manager for the construction. “When we get together like this, you won’t hear a negative comment from anyone and we definitely go above and beyond.”
“They were more than a team, they were also a family, a true family, I always see that in CES.” said Espinoza. “This project had a very positive impact that helped revitalize the camaraderie among our Airmen.”