Blog from Hawaii with the 146th CE Squadron, day 4
By Airman 1st Class Ashley Ramirez, 146AW
/ Published June 16, 2010
BARBERS POINT, Hawaii -- It is day 10 of construction at Pearl City, concrete day. All the "dirt boys" as Lt. Barry so eloquently calls them are here and ready. I learned that the term "dirt boys" means all these Airmen are trained in concrete and pouring. In other words, the best of the best are here today. Everyone is walking around checking any last minute adjustments on the boxes that will hold the six foundations. The last few nails are being hammered in, oil is being is sprayed on the edges of the box to help the concrete not stick to the edges. We are all standing, ready and eager to begin the busy workday. Standing... and eager...ready...and waiting. Waiting, and still waiting. Then, right on time, the truck pulls up. After a quick run down from Lt. Barry the driver is ready to go.
To say that pouring concrete is almost like organized chaos is a little bit of an understatement. All over Airmen are using shovels, levelers and boards. They are pouring, filling in holes and smoothing the rock to a finish. Staff Sgt. Cris Casteel, who told me he is experienced in construction and has worked with concrete for years, carefully maneuvers the chute for the concrete from one end of the box to the other. He gives hand signals to the driver, "Pull forward! ...Reverse!"
Behind Sgt. Casteel are a dozen or so Airmen using shovels to even out the concrete in the box. Two Airmen have a long 2x4 that is cut to the exact length to fit in the box. They drag the board along the top of the concrete, making sure it is the exact height that the measurements called for. Once the concrete is leveled out and even all around, Master Sgt. Darren Milner comes up, balancing on the 2x4 boards slamming down a hand tamper on the top of the mashed concrete. He tells me this helps settle the rocks on the bottom of the foundation. Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wells lays on the finishing touches, using a tool I like the to call the smoother. Apparently that is not the correct title for this tool as Sgt. Wells pointed out. He says, "Ashley, this is called a 'magnesium bull float.' I use it to smooth out the concrete and get the water to the top. Then after that, I use that tool over there called a 'Fresno' and that will smooth out the concrete even more. Got all that?" I was thinking "No sir, not at all," but of course I pull out the old stand by... smile, nod and write it down.
As one box of concrete is getting smoothed to a shine another is being poured. Ten different jobs are working in sync with each other. Airmen are running from one end of the parking lot to another. It is hard to keep up with all that is going on so I just try to stay out of the way and watch. The more I watch the more I am starting to get the hang of things. "It's not all THAT chaotic," I think. Concrete isn't THAT hard. As I am listening to everyone work, pour, level and smooth, basking in my newfound knowledge of concrete pours, I hear Senior Master Sgt. Wells from across the lot, "Hand me my magnesium bull float!" I look at my notepad, and.. .yup, there it is plain as day. I wrote down magnesium bull FROG! Just as I beginning to think I had things down. Magnesium bull frog... really?