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    163D Sends Troops to Assist with Special Olympics

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Joseph Pagan | U.S. Air Force Airmen, assigned to the 163D Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) from...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Joseph Pagan 

    163d Attack Wing   

    EWA BEACH, HI – The 163d Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) sent troops to the Island of Oahu to assist in the construction of a training facility for the athletes of the Hawaii Special Olympics. The 163d CES was the fourth of six planned rotations to be sent to Ewa Beach, Hawaii. They completed their contributions between August 2nd and 12th, said Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Linares, the troop commander assigned to the 163d CES.

    “Doing something like this, that is strictly for the community and the Special Olympics is different. The Guard (a reserve component of the U.S. Air Force) is pretty good at it, but it's not something the military usually does. That’s what makes this project special for us. This is what I used as motivation when my commanding officer informed me I would be the troop commander of this effort,” said Linares.

    I gathered my troops to brief and provide details concerning the Special Olympics Project and everyone volunteered, he added. “The smiles are real, at the 15-hour mark, late into the evening, they were still proud and excited to be doing what they are doing.”

    Linares further expressed that although this mission is different it is still a commercial grade effort, and everything from the dirt to steel to concrete is inspected. “This thing doesn't happen unless all measures are met. It’s about quality work, focus, and combining safety and skill.”

    “In less than one and a half days the 163d contributed more to the overall project than the four previous rotations completed in a week,” Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Morman, the project manager assigned for the entire duration of the Hawaii Special Olympics Operation, from the 556 Red Horse Civil Engineering Squadron in Florida. He added, “In total the 163d completed more than 25 percent of the overall project during their entire stay!”

    The 163d kicked off their contributions to the project by laying over 13,000 ft. of rebar. Said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Barnes the subject matter expert who is also assigned to 556 Red Horse Squadron. “There are no lazy people in this unit, everybody is working non-stop to get this job done.”

    The 163d stayed late into the night with only a few hour nap to secure the rebar grid before a very pivotal concrete pour.

    After completing the arduous task of securing rebar, the 163d, along with fellow service members poured over 180 yards of concrete,” said Barnes.

    Tech. Sgt. Po’okela Fernandez, the brother of a Hawaii Special Olympic athlete, had the honor of pouring the first portion of cement for the foundation. “When I heard they could use a dirt boy (a term used to describe a pavement and construction equipment troop) I asked my unit here in Hawaii if I can volunteer,” he said.
    Fernandez further expressed that it was a privilege for him to be a part of the project that would benefit his brother and all other Special Olympic Athletes.

    Cindy Ujimori, vice president of community outreach for the Hawaii Special Olympics said, “The intellectually disabled are oftentimes a forgotten population. The Special Olympics is a program to help those children and adults!”

    Ujimori said the athletes that are involved with our program are 50 percent more likely to hold jobs. “Through sports we increase their quality of life!” They learn how to use teamwork, communication and cooperation just like how you would in the world!” she said.

    Ujimori further expressed her gratitude to the service members involved in this project by saying “We do not have our own training facility to practice in. They cannot use regular gyms easily, this building will give them a home. Having this facility will enable us to service our athletes. It’s a place for them to train, grow their relationships and make friends. This wouldn’t have happened without the military. We have a home now. This is ours.”

    The 163d, who isn’t a stranger to hard work and is known for its attention to detail and quality, was happy to answer the call.

    Hard work is easy when you know how important this project is for the people depending on us, explained Staff Sgt. Dewahn Brooks, A Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff who also serves as a heating ventilation and air conditioning troop to the 163d CES.

    Brooks continued saying, “When you get home and you’re tired, your back hurts, you’re sunburnt and your hands are cramping, you know you gave it your all. This is why I joined. To work hard and to be a part of something bigger than me.”

    Brooks said that the 163d CES operates like a well-oiled machine whose members like to work hard and love what they do. “We want to be here. Everyone you see volunteered to be here. That is why you see us smiling, working hard and sweating, it's genuine, this is what we do,” he said.

    “The Special Olympics is more than just sports! We have a strong health care program too. We work closely with the medical community and provide free medical screenings for the athletes. Everything from vision, hearing, dental and podiatry, to nutrition and healthy lifestyle,” said Cindy.

    Nip Ho, the senior vice president of programs said, although every state has their own special olympics initiative, there is global outreach as well. If service members have dependents that are intellectually disabled they are encouraged to reach out to their local special olympics for help.
    She further expressed her gratitude to the military by saying “Thank you for being here for us, we are here for you!”

    In total, the 163d laid rebar, poured, vibrated and floated cement, erected steel ridge columns and rafters, installed the corresponding rods, girts and purlins and constructed a connecting sidewalk, said Barnes.

    Captain Wiltron, the commanding officer of the Hawaii Special Olympics project said, the military spared no expense ensuring the best quality possible.
    “Everything was inspected! The dirt inspector ensured proper compaction and moisture content, the cement inspector guaranteed a minimum strength requirement of 3000psi, and the steel inspector made certain of the rebar grid type, position, design and configuration per the specification of the structural engineer.”

    “I’m confident this structure will last for many years ahead,” said Barnes. Great measures were taken to ensure a quality facility for the Hawaii Special Olympics and their athletes.

    Coach Jim Richie, who has been involved with the Special Olympics for over 47 years emotionally expressed “This facility makes our athletes feel even more special. This is ours. The military has graciously built this for us, it will give our athletes who have longed to power lift a place to finally do so. Thank you so very much.”



    Date Taken: 08.12.2022
    Date Posted: 08.15.2022 14:29
    Story ID: 427207
    Location: EWA BEACH, HI, US 

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