102nd Civil Engineer Squadron: Tough and Perseverant

The The 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron recently returned from an Innovative Readiness Training deployment that not only honed their skills as engineers, but provided an opportunity to give back to the community in a unique and rewarding way. However, it was not always that way. 

 The IRT program began construction of Camp Kamassa in April and during the multi-year mission, will build the first special needs camp in Crystal Springs for the Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation. The IRT mission brings together service members from the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard to train on mission-essential tasks, including construction, dirt work, engineering, plumbing and pest management.

Building Camp Kamassa provides the military hands-on, multi-trade construction experience, while simultaneously creating an opportunity for children with special needs to experience summer camp.

Kamassa, a Chocktaw word meaning “tough and perseverant,” describes the ones the camp serves—children living with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, or other hardships. “We envisioned a year-round camp facility with activities like horseback riding, a ropes course, and canoing that would be handicap-accessible,” said Mrs. Mary Kitchens, MTK’s co-founder and director.

Kitchens wanted to build a permanent camp that was accessible to her target audience and had specialized medical facilities. “Without the IRT program, we could not afford to build the camp,” said Mrs. Kitchens, “thanks to the IRT program, thousands of children will have a camp designed to meet their unique medical needs while giving them a camp experience filled with fun, adventure, and discovery.”

The contingent of Airmen from the 102nd Intelligence Wing was primarily made up of members of the 102 CES, but also included personnel from the 102nd Medical Group and 102nd Force Support Flight, who provided support for the engineers.

Work included the completion of a pole barn roof and structural cross bracing, surveying and installation of concrete drainage pipe, maintenance and installation of a silt fence and general road repair and grading. The transportation of both excavated material and material in from off site, vegetation clearing, widening and filling the main maintenance road and surveying and preparing the area for an open air recreation building foundation rounded out the primary projects for the team of dedicated and skilled Airmen.

As part of a project to build a barn, the structures team installed 4,800 square feet of metal roofing, 100 feet of ridge cap and 192 linear feet of steel cross bracing cable. Engineering surveyed, staked and leveled 8,344 square feet for an open air recreation area as well as surveying the elevation and staking of areas for cabins and a baseball field. Heavy equipment operators performed the leveling and compacting of these spaces, moving nearly 1300 cubic yards of fill, 732 tons of aggregate and excavated approximately 12,744 cubic yards of soil for the installation of water drainage pipe.

With high-humidity and temperatures approaching triple digits regularly, the HVAC team maintained cooling for the tent city and assisted with the swap out of generators to ensure continuity of power for the air conditioning system. Electricians and the power production team assisted with heavy equipment operators in the clearing of trees in preparation for electrical power installations and serviced and maintained generators at a local Army National Guard Armory. All throughout, the medical team supported the workers providing medical response oversight for the crew’s safety – they ensured everyone remained hydrated and healthy, providing daily safety briefings regarding heat, water consumption and rest cycles.

In all, the team worked hard on projects every single day, but that didn’t stop some from participating in other great events as well, such as the annual Crystal Springs Tomato Festival 5K Road Race.

Work down South was hot, dirty and taxing but all involved were rewarded knowing they were there supporting the children of Camp Kamassa – work that allowed the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron to fulfill the mission of the National Guard by providing a well-trained and well-equipped capable force.

Helping the children of Camp Kamassa is a wonderful effect of programs like Innovative Readiness Training. Helping communities in need and improving the quality of life for our citizens makes all the difference. Contributions of citizen Airmen, like those of the Massachusetts National Guard, play an important role in the betterment of our country.

By Mr. Timothy Sandland, 102 Intelligence Wing Public Affairs, Massachusetts National Guard

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