102 CES Heads to Guam for Habitat for Humanity Project

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kristen Moulis
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing
Recently, the 102d Civil Engineer Squadron deployed for a unique training opportunity as part of the Innovative Readiness Training Program Habitat for Humanity project in Guam.  IRT is a Department of Defense civil-military program that partners military training with community needs. Every year, IRT receives countless applications by civilian organizations looking to partner their project with the military.

This year, Habitat for Humanity-Guam was chosen for the first time. The goal was to build two homes. The first home is for a single mother, of four, who works at Andersen AFB. They recently lost their home in a fire and currently live in a shipping container without running water.  The second home is for a family of six;  the father, a local fire fighter, the mother and their four children.

Five units from across the country, including the 102 CES, were selected to participate. Each unit deployed for two weeks, in a phased approach, to build the two homes. 

The project already had unforeseen challenges on the first day.  "Upon arrival, we learned that due to changes in the construction plans, the project was already behind schedule.  We had to come up with a plan of attack to tackle the construction on both houses to get the project back on track," said Maj. Mike MacCannell, the Project Manager.

Ten-hour work days were implemented and lunchbreaks were taken on site to increase productivity and get the project back on its initial schedule. Under the intense Guam sun, Airmen removed their ABU blouses, donned boonie hats, and applied copious amounts of sunblock before engaging in challenging manual labor.

The 40-person team was comprised mostly of traditional guardsmen.  While some are experts in the same civilian and military occupation, others have full-time careers that greatly differ from their AFSCs.  "We are lucky that we have several highly-skilled craftsmen, a few even run their own businesses.  We utilize those skills on the worksite to train every Airman.  Team leads are selected based on experience in the trade, so in some cases, you may have a Staff Sgt. teaching a Master Sgt. masonry concepts or how to run electrical lines," said Maj. MacCannell. 

"We have a vocational high school teacher who taught every Airman about concrete block construction, a corrections officer who operated heavy equipment, a fireman who oversaw every block and piece of rebar laid, a painter who ensured the entire pad of one house was properly plumbed and inspection-ready, a septic company owner who readied both sites for septic installation....I could go on and on," said Chief Master Sgt. Joe Nadeau, the Chief Enlisted Manager.

"A unique aspect of building construction in Guam is that the homes are concrete block construction, designed to withstand typhoon winds up to 200 mph.  The work was arduous and consisted of manual digging, excavating, masonry, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, pavements and grounds, and project management," said Maj. MacCannell. Despite temperatures hovering in the high 90s, stifling humidity, and little shade for two weeks, the unit worked as a well-oiled machine during the early phases of home construction.
The team completed 16 courses (rows) of concrete block to build the walls of each home.  Additionally, they poured over 40 yards of concrete for the foundation and its walls, laid over 1,500 concrete blocks, prepared both sites for septic installation, and completed initial electrical and plumbing installs.  As they readied to depart, they handed the project over to the next team--this time the project was ahead of schedule.

"Everyone was equal to the task, each person has to recognize and rely on the skill, craft, and work ethic of each other to complete the job," said Maj. MacCannell.

To own a home in Guam is costly due to the concrete construction, built to withstand Guam's tropical storms and typhoons. Through a program like IRT, military members not only receive training they need for deployments and wartime missions, but also provide critical support to underserved communities and hardworking families.

The 102 CES received accolades from the Red Horse supervisory team as well as from Habitat for Humanity-Guam. Their efforts will benefit the two local families who now have forever homes.