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Project Overhaul - 146 CES accomplishes multiple home station construction projects

U.S. Air National Guard members from the 146 Civil Engineer Squadron perform a re-enlistment ceremony outside the headquarters building at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, August 9, 2019. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Todd Senff.

U.S. Air National Guard members from the 146th Civil Engineer Squadron conduct a re-enlistment ceremony outside the headquarters building at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, August 9, 2019. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Todd Senff.

CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. --

Members from the 146th Airlift Wing’s (146AW) Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) have nearly finished six separate construction projects in a short amount of time after their deployed for training trip that would of sent them to Puerto Rico was cancelled at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, CA. August 9, 2019.

With the cancelation of training, the squadron took the opportunity to make some much-needed repairs around the base while also accomplishing the required training needed.

Facilities operations specialist and U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Randolph Van Otten and the CES team began July 28, 2019. Remodeling the Heritage Square courtyard in front of the wing headquarters building, the office area of the Mission Support Group communication support squadron, the Chaplains’ wellness area, and a patio area for the Mission Support Group.

“Rather than go to another base, we decided to do something here because the project list is so long,” said Van Otten. 

Additionally, CES has provided one subject matter expert to assist, teach, and oversee multiple self-help projects around the base. Assisting the Security Forces Squadron as well as the Communications flight with various smaller construction projects.

“This self-help program allows everyone to experience what CES does full-time in a compacted schedule. It also helps us because we have been doing months of preparation getting ready because we only have a 2-week window for what would have been a 6 month job,” said Van Otten. 

The revamped self-help program teaches CES trade-work to members requesting support to accomplish smaller construction projects. Utilizing the labor of the requesting party, CES personnel supervise and teach techniques such as the framing of the walls and give airmen the opportunity to do time consuming tasks like painting, in order to finish their projects faster. 

According to Van Otten, finishing both the self-help and major projects would not be possible without his two project leads, Staff Sgt. Guillermo Diaz-Garcia and Tech. Sgt. Kyle Athan.

“For their first-time being project leads, they worked their tails off. They were able to plan the projects with me, but I wanted to give them their space and time to operate the projects on their own. They have done an amazing job and I am incredibly proud of the work they’ve accomplished,” said Van Otten.

The remodeling of the Heritage Square doubles as a great training experience and a good challenge according to Van Otten. The Heritage Square project alone saw construction involving electricity, plumbing, heavy equipment, structures, engineering assistance, and project management.

“The amount of work at Heritage Square encompassed all of our CES responsibilities, everyone in the squadron got a chance to get their hands dirty. We’re still doing training for our guys which is the best part about this,” said Van Otten.

In all, over 40 CES personnel would continue training over the course of two weeks, accomplishing many construction projects while also managing to squeeze in a Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) level 2 exercise.

According to Van Otten, getting the assets, money, and days needed to complete these projects were an additional challenge, but a challenge worth accepting.

“It just took a lot going back to higher headquarters, NGB, (National Guard Bureau) and working with them to get the resources, to get the days, to do the planning, to do all the DTS (Defense Travel System) before the deadline. It took the whole team while still trying to maintain the base. We have passion for what we do,” said Van Otten.

“We were given a great opportunity; it involved a lot of trust from leadership because they took a chance on us when they could have easily used the money to get just one project funded. Instead we were able to accomplish a lot more and it feels awesome,” said Van Otten.