JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) –
Thirtyeight Alaska Air National Guards with the 176th Wing helped build homes for Cherokee veterans in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, May 15-29 as part of the Department of Defense’s innovative readiness training program.
The Cherokee Veterans Housing Initiative, a partnership with the Cherokee Nation, is a collaborative service mission to build new single family homes and support infrastructure for eligible Cherokee Nation veterans and their families.
Senior Master Sgt. Michael Keegan, senior enlisted chief of the 176th Civil Engineering Squadron, said the 176th CES Guardsmen worked at four locations while the 176th Force Support Squadron’s duty flight served 3,355 meals during 15-day training.
“We are taking back some home building skills and much-needed concrete and finishing experience,” said Keegan, who has completed two IRT missions. “We completed the shell and the roof for an entire house, dug and poured concrete floors for a house, and prepared and poured two concrete foundations.”
In total, the Air Guards dug 160 linear feet of trenches, placed 87 cubic meters of concrete, constructed 120 linear feet of rebar cage, framed more than 300 linear feet of wooden walls, hung 4,200 square feet of plywood jacketing, and installed nearly 1,700 square feet of asphalt shingles.
“All of this was accomplished while battling heavy rains and losing 36 hours of productivity,” said Keegan, who said true skill and determination shone with the Air National Guards on the ground. “I may be biased, but I really feel that our ANG civil engineers are on the best line.”
The IRT program offers practical training during the construction process and offers joint military units the opportunity to improve their operational readiness.
“It was an ideal training mission for most businesses in CE – not only building and heavy machinery workshops with key components, but other trades such as utilities, HVAC, power generation and fire departments practicing and training their respective skills. skill, ”said Master Sgt. Ferdinand Torralba, officer in charge of the 176th CES Structures Shop.
Torralba said cross-training between Air Force jobs is an important part of training.
“The Services Flight introduced other businesses to kitchen tasks and protocols – and strengthened both collaboration and the effectiveness of the mission,” he said. “Learning a little bit of each trade helps every aviator to bring a large amount of AFSC (Air Force Specialty Codes) and design knowledge with them.”
Torralba, who is a full-time electronics technician for the Federal Aviation Administration in his civilian capacity, said construction went hand in hand with Alaskans. “It is very applicable to everyday life as a homeowner or to home improvement and fixer-upper projects.”
Torralba said the guards were delighted to be giving back to a community beyond the squadron’s regular mission and seeing the direct impact of their efforts.
“In less than three to four years, a family will be living in the houses we have built for many years to come,” said Torralba. “Also, knowing that this is a disabled veteran family gives you a sense of honor as we give something back to one of our US forces for its service.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building took place in April. Over the next three years, Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force guards and reservists from across the country will continue to build 21 new homes for Cherokee veterans.