Hulman Field, Ind. --
California, the land of balmy tropical breezes and golden beaches for as far as the eye can see, where sun bleached surfers congregate to pay homage to breaking waves, and navel oranges hang on every tree, ripe for the picking. It's the kind of place our imaginations draw us to when the day seems a little too long and we need a paradise to lean on for a moment or two. A place that is truly the land of milk and honey......unless, that is, you happen to be the 181st Civil Engineers.
If you're a part of the 181st Civil Engineer Squadron performing a Deployment for Training in California there's a good chance you'll be at an austere location like Camp Morena Navy S.E.A.L. training camp where the balmy tropical breezes fall to near freezing at night, frost will greet you each morning, and on any given day snow may be in the forecast. Yes, you'll need sunscreen (at four-thousand feet above sea-level, sunburns happen faster than you can snap a chalk line), but you'll also need an ice scraper and a warm coat. And don't forget to bring your own sleeping bag because Navy SEALS aren't big on accommodations.
During the two weeks the squadron spent at Camp Morena, as well as neighboring La Posta Mountain Warfare Training Facility, they maintained a dizzying pace, working themselves out of materials on numerous occasions and accomplishing far more than even the SEALs expected of them. Walls went up, roofs went on, wires were pulled, concrete was poured, heating and cooling systems were repaired, and each day before the dust could settle our engineers were looking for more work to do. As an added bonus Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructors Tech. Sgt. Dave Hopkins and Staff Sgt. Chad McIntire were on hand to fill the precious few spare moments of down time with weapons qualifications on the M4 and M9. Despite scheduling conflicts that would have even the most experienced administrative assistant in the fetal position, Hopkins and McIntire performed so admirably that several of our engineers shot expert on both.
Vice Wing Commander Col. Patrick Renwick and Mission Support Group Commander Lt. Col. Wayne Booker paid a visit to the DFT site and, after experiencing the Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force concept first hand, understood the seamless transition of Air Force specialty codes working together. In the words of Colonel Booker, "I've never seen a group of people pull together and accomplish so much in such a short amount of time."
But DFTs aren't the only happenings worth mentioning in CE; back at home station we'd like to welcome several new engineers to the fold. Staff Sgt. Mark Prichard and Senior Airman Paul Forsyth, both former active-duty airmen, help round out the ranks of our Structures and Electrical shops, respectively. And I'd be remiss in my duties if I failed to mention that Staff Sgt. John Labo, our own prodigal son who recently re-enlisted after a short hiatus, has returned to the Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning shop. And last but certainly not least, Airman 1st Class Broc Potter and Airman 1st Class Drake Stevenson are welcome additions to the Structures shop.
In CE, change is the one constant we've come to rely on, and though it always brings its own set of challenges, it also provides an opportunity to mentor individuals in the long tradition of excellence established by Civil Engineers over the years. So, with that in mind, in the immortal words of Chief MSgt. Danny Lewis, we will endeavor to "Press on!"