News: Airmen, soldiers work together on construction project in Panama
Story by Sgt. Jeff Daniel
ESCOBAL, Panama – Twenty-eight Airmen worked hastily to smooth the concrete under the hot Panamanian sun at the first foundation pour at the Escobal health clinic here April 7.
This is a first of many milestones for the airmen. They are building a dormitory for clinic workers and additional exam rooms as part of U.S. Army South’s Beyond the Horizon training exercise.
The Airmen, from the 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers , 179th Fighter Wing, an Ohio Air National Guard Unit out of Mansfield, Ohio and the 203rd REDHORSE Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, a Virginia Air National Guard unit out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., fall under the command of Lt. Col. James Dinsmore.
“It’s always a challenge to get concrete in a timely manner in a foreign country,” said Dinsmore. “But today was a milestone because if you don’t have a slab, then you can’t build the walls.”
In the spirit of BTH, this also gave the opportunity for additional training to the Airmen and even to a few soldiers.
“We have a fairly experienced crew,” explained Dinsmore. “The senior NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) were assigned teams and they had the ability to mix in the less experienced to gain training. There was teamwork and they were very cohesive.”
Master Sgt. Daniel Carroll, an equipment operator with the 203rd, agreed.
“This is the smoothest pour I’ve seen considering that there are multiple groups here that haven’t worked together before,” said Carroll.
The spirit of training was in the air as the day progressed. Airmen and Soldiers received hands-on instruction on new tasks or to improve what they already knew.
“I like learning new things and wanted to help out,” said Staff Sgt. Tamika Delaine, a supply sergeant with the 961st Engineer Battalion Forward Support Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, 416th Tactical Engineer Command, an Army Reserve unit out of Seagoville, Texas. “I wanted to help out but didn’t know who to ask, so one of the Airmen asked if I wanted to help out.”
“It was a new experience for me,” said Delaine. “It is knowledge I can take back with me and now I know what ‘right’ looks like.”
Delaine said that she would advise the younger troops to not be afraid to ask or to learn something new.
“You can learn a new MOS (military occupational specialty) and that can lead to career progression. Knowledge is power. The opportunity to cross train is great.”
The next major milestone will be erecting the walls.
“We don’t have a lot of people experienced in this type of construction,” said Dinsmore. “The challenge will be to get it right the first time.”
Carroll explained that they are building walls at the dormitories and an addition to the clinic using a building technique called NuForm. It is polymer encased concrete walls.
Carroll said that 203rd has had very little training constructing this type of wall, but the 200th has built them before in Jamaica.
“This will broaden our horizons with new building techniques,” said Carroll.
Finally, Carroll explained that leadership wants more “purple” missions (joint Air Force and Army) and that this type of training mission is exactly what is needed.
“This really shows the Army and Air Force coming together as one team,” said Carroll.