JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
The 108th Civil Engineering Squadron traveled to a construction site in Crystal Springs, Miss., from July 31-August 15, 2019, to assist with the construction of a camping facility, and gain vital hands-on training.
The squadron partnered with the Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation to help build Camp Kamassa, a year-round camping facility for children and adults with serious illnesses, disabilities or other challenges. Guard and reserve units from multiple branches have been rotating in and out for months prior to the 108th’s arrival.
“[National Guard Bureau] gave us a list of potential training opportunities, and we saw what this one was about … and immediately zeroed in,” said Lt. Col. Eric Balint, the commander of the 108th CES. “This was a great opportunity to do something really positive, and a great training opportunity for us.”
As units rotate through the construction site, some of their collective goals include the construction of roads and a lake; clearing and digging out campsites; installation of water, sewage and electrical utilities; and the construction of buildings, to include cabins, a cafeteria, infirmary, multi-purpose building, open-air recreation building, and a main building that houses offices and meeting rooms.
“It becomes mutually beneficial for both organizations,” Balint said. “These training opportunities are usually just for training. We’re really fortunate with this one where we were able to get some very applicable training that our folks absolutely need for their overall readiness, and also contribute to just an amazing cause.”
Capt. Nathan Gorey, the 108th CES operations officer in charge, recalls the reception the team received when they arrived on site:
“The reception from MTK was like something out of a movie!,” Gorey said. “We were welcomed with open arms from the very first day. MTK went above and beyond to provide us with opportunities to meet the locals and see what Crystal Springs was all about. It made the whole experience come full circle.”
All told, the team of 32 Airmen from the 108th CES, 177th CES and 108th Medical Group completed electrical circuit installation for four different cabin porches; installation of air duct systems used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning for 4 different cabins; improved surface water drainage across the project site; enhanced two culvert drainage systems; constructed two earthen berms at the construction site main entrance and completed project site road remediation.
In addition, Airmen from the structures shop completed construction of porches for four different cabins, constructed gable end walls for four different cabins, completed the preparation of six cabin interiors for follow-on insulation installation and completed installation of metal roof ridge caps for four different cabins.
“The 108th CES makes a positive impact wherever we go,” Balint said. “We hit the ground running. We work hard to make positive relationships. This has been no different. My folks have been knocking it out of the park, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”