Mass Guard Engineers Help Build For The Blackfeet Nation > Air National Guard > Article Display
BLACKFOOT INDIAN RESERVATION, Mont. – Last month, Airmen from the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron traveled to participate in this year’s Air National Guard Innovative Civil Engineer Readiness Training. The main objective of the IRT was to assist in the construction of a 7,000 square foot seniors’ community center for the elders of the Blackfoot Indian tribe.
The IRT program allows engineers to practice hands-on, real-world engineering training in a deployed environment. This improves preparedness and also creates partnerships and brings benefits to disadvantaged communities.
This year’s location was the Blackfeet Tribe of the Montana Blackfeet Indian Reservation in the northern part of the state, near the Canadian border.
The engineers traveled to “Big Sky Country” using the Michigan ANG KC-135 Stratotanker. Straight from Otis Air National Guard Base. The flight was the first ride on a military aircraft for many Airmen – made incredibly exceptional when Master Sgt. Morgan Marconi was surprised by a promotion to 30,000 feet.
“Everyone in CE has a specific skill set – many projects may be outside of an Airman’s specific AFSC, but regardless, our engineers are on hand to help with any task” , said Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Leighton, commander of the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron.
The IRT program was designed to integrate the skills and training that military and civilian engineers already have to do with the needs of some of our community partners.
“The squadron simply crushed him!” said Leighton
While there, 102 CES Airmen performed tasks primarily focused on plumbing and earthworks, completion of under-slab plumbing and utility work, and general preparation for wall construction. Side projects, such as building tool storage, replacing electrical ground wires, and building viewing platforms at a local community equestrian training center, have completed their time.
This project will allow the community to save $1.5 million while allowing engineers to sharpen their technical expertise.
The flagship of the project, a 7,000 square foot seniors center, represented two weeks and 3,240 hours of work.
Staff Sgt. Jose Canario acted as the squadron’s project manager, directing all activities and ensuring that tasks were completed. Leveraging the experts in their ranks, they accelerated their timelines and achieved more than expected.
“Give CE a task and release our non-commissioned officers… CE style; They’re doing it! said Leighton. “This DFT has been an amazing experience.”
The squadron worked hard, but also took the time to build team cohesion and esprit de corps through off-duty activities such as hiking in Glacier National Park, a white-water rafting excursion and a western rodeo.
The contributions made by the Airmen of the 102 CES were significant, as evidenced by the remarks made by the IRT project leader, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Eversole.
“The team came to the Blackfeet Nation project this year and performed exceptionally well! They got the ball rolling and helped us get the project back on track so we could give an impoverished community a building they could use as a gathering place,” Eversole said.
“A place where elders could gather to socialize or teach the younger generation about their heritage.”