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    Kentucky’s Workhorse Battalion Makes a Difference at Camp Kamassa

    Camp Kamassa

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane | The Workhorse Battalion’s mission in Crystal Springs was the ongoing construction of...... read more read more

    Kentucky’s Workhorse Battalion Makes a Difference at Camp Kamassa

    By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

    RICHMOND, Ky. – In early May 2021, more than 300 Kentucky Guardsmen loaded up their equipment, fuelers and construction vehicles, and slowly convoyed from Ashland, Ky., to Crystal Springs, Mississippi, for a much anticipated annual training.

    “This is the first time since Hurricane Katrina that we have sent a convoy that big across a distance that far, and this time we didn’t lose a single vehicle to a break down,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Sipe, the highest ranking noncommissioned officer of the 201st Engineer Battalion. “I have to hand it to our company commanders and our maintenance folks; that’s outstanding work.”

    The Workhorse Battalion’s mission in Crystal Springs was the ongoing construction of Camp Kamassa, Mississippi’s first, fully-accessible, year-round camp facility for children and adults with serious illness, physical and mental challenges and other special needs. Military involvement in construction projects like Camp Kamassa are possible through the Department of Defense innovative readiness training (IRT) program.

    Sipe said IRT missions make a difference for communities in the United States and its territories, but it also provides joint training opportunities to increase the readiness for military units with specific skillsets.

    “We’ve been anticipating our turn to make a difference at Camp Kamassa for a long time,” said Sipe. “Not only are we supporting a community with a very specific need, but we’re also providing Soldiers in every job occupation our battalion has to offer with two weeks of good, quality training.

    He added that there are different ways to train vertical construction troops but it is a challenge to give electricians, plumbers and horizontal construction workers the access to the same hands-on training required to improve their skills.

    “These IRT missions provide us with a rare opportunity to train everyone at the same time,” he said.

    Thousands of Airmen, Marines and Soldiers from across the U.S. military have worked at Camp Kamassa over a 3 year period with the end-goal to provide a state-of-the-art facility for adults and children with special needs. The military units provide the personnel, the time and the tools while the IRT partner, a nonprofit organization called Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation, provides the dream, the list of amenities needed, and the materials. The camp must have physical details such as wider doorways and sidewalks for wheelchairs, specialized medical facilities and flexible living spaces to accommodate almost any challenge a resident would have.

    The 201st Engineer battalion commander, Lt. Col. Terry Durham, said his Soldiers benefited from learning about the partnering organization and hearing the stories of some of the children with various illnesses and challenges who could experience a summer camp with little limitation when Camp Kamassa is finished.

    “The local community provided us with a nice dinner one night and we got to hear from Mary Kitchens, the founder of MTKF, as well as some of the children who would benefit from this camp with its tailored amenities once its finished.” said Durham. “After hearing their stories, I think our guys and gals worked a little harder.”

    In their two weeks of work, the 300 plus Soldiers completed interior construction to existing cabins, constructed a new family cabin and also completed a lot of the electrical and plumbing installation. Other projects included completing the masonry for a recreation center, surveying new sites, improving the site drainage, and constructing haul roads. They also began the initial construction of a levy for a recreational pond.

    Durham said he was very proud of the Soldiers in the 201st and the progress they made for the ongoing project at Camp Kamassa.

    “It is why we signed up to wear the uniform. We want to give back and be part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Durham. “We train for war--and that’s certainly our main purpose--but the skills we need to develop to accomplish those missions are greatly enhanced by the IRT missions.”

    “We are honored to be a part of something that will positively impact thousands of children and their families in the future like Camp Kamassa,” he said.

    To learn more about MTKF, Camp Kamassa and how you can help, visit www.mtkfound.com.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.07.2021
    Date Posted: 06.07.2021 14:34
    Story ID: 398308
    Location: KY, US

    Web Views: 164
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN