News: 100th CES preserves chapel’s historic items
Story by Gina Randall
RAF MILDENHALL, England - RAF Mildenhall is blessed with many beautiful buildings and items inside those buildings. As people walk around the base, they may not notice the details in the timber door and window frames or the grand display cabinets. Most don’t think about the person who made the map frame or the cabinet in which trophies are housed.
David Spragg, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron structures charge hand carpenter and joiner from Yorkshire, England, and other personnel including service members and civilians, work tirelessly to improve the appearance and practicality of the base. Spragg and his team work out of Building 840 on RAF Mildenhall, the home of the structures shop.
Spragg’s role on the base is to run the structures dorms maintenance program, keeping 14 dorms in good condition with the repairs and replacements, which can take up to three days a week with the assistance of service members. The remainder of the week he works on training projects in the carpenter’s workshop in Building 840.
He has worked on RAF Mildenhall for the last 12 years and has a wealth of skills and experience to share with new airmen.
“As a shop, we always do everything we can to leave the job with the customer happy with our work; it doesn't matter whether it's a lock job, replacing tiles in a bathroom, a joinery job, or any of the other things we do — we do the best we can with what we have,” said Airman 1st Class Scott Haeseler, 100th CES structures journeyman from Mystic, Conn.
“In our shop, I give workshop machine training to military and civilians. In making a new timber window frame, the person being trained will use eight machines,” Spragg said.
Recently, Spragg and Haeseler went above and beyond the call of duty when the staff at the base chapel needed help.
One of the display cases in the chapel housing a visitor’s book (signed by Prince Charles, when he visited RAF Mildenhall and dedicated the chapel stained glass in 1982) had a broken piece of glass in it. The 100th CES doesn't usually fix those kinds of issues but Spragg, a master carpenter, wanted to help.
“He will sometimes help us out by fixing things like that if we provide the materials,” said Emma Doel, 100th Air Refueling Wing secretary to the wing chaplain from Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. “We ordered a new piece of glass for the case and Dave [Spragg] came and took the broken case and glass to repair it.”
Unfortunately, the case was beyond repair, so Spragg and Haeseler made a new case out of off-cuts at no cost to the U.S. government.
“I manufactured a new case out of materials left over from other projects,” Spragg said.
The chapel staff greatly appreciated his efforts.
“The new case looks lovely,” Doel added.
Spragg saw there was a need for his skills in order to preserve a piece of history, both British and American, and jumped at the chance to lend a hand. He also saw a chance to improve the skills of tomorrow’s airmen.
“The old case was past its best, and I thought it would be a training project for Haeseler,” Spragg said.
“We did take special care with this job due to the fact that the box holds quite a few memories and signatures from some special visitors, such as His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales,” Haeseler added.
The structures shop personnel use materials that will stand the test of time for their projects, using American white oak, Douglas fir, mahogany, oak-veneered medium-density fiberboard, glue, Plexiglas and wax polish.
“Instead of just making the fix, which would have been quite generous in itself, Haesler and Spragg dug deep into their skill set and turned scrap material already at hand into a whole new case — which is a huge improvement over the old broken one,” said Lt. Col. Henry Close, 100th ARW chaplain. “It is a real display, not only of artistic creativity to enhance our facility, but a statement of how deeply people care about our legacy with the 100th [ARW]."
“This is not just about the case and the book; it’s that we must remember them!” Spragg said.