Hard work, dedication for the CES training deployment to Hungary

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Bob Lazear
  • 121st CES Facility Manager

The 121st Civil Engineering Squadron landed at Budapest Airport on August 1, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. local time. The chain line was immediately formed upon the opening of the aircraft door and the work began for Civil Engineering. It did not stop that day until reaching our destination at Camp Bondsteel KFor , Hungary, about three hours southwest of Budapest.
We arrived around 4 p.m. local time and began a quick meeting with the 133rd Civil Engineering Squadron from Minnesota. We were briefed on the status of the two buildings we would be renovating and on the roofing project for the kindergarten school in the nearby village of Zalahalap. The long day that began back at Rickenbacker on Friday night at 5 p.m. was finally winding down and our personnel settled in for a well deserved rest.
The CE Squadron began early the next day with boots hitting the ground starting at 7 a.m. The roofing project could not begin until the next day with the village of Zalahapa recognizing the holy day, Sunday. This did not stop the personnel assigned to the project from contributing to the renovation of the two barracks. There was no slack anywhere; everyone was contributing to what seemed like at the time an impossible task.
There were personnel learning new trades, others sharpening their wartime skills in their AFSC's , all were doing whatever it took to help complete this important project.
The buildings were in shambles, needing paint in all 21 rooms, the doors and hallways. The bathrooms were going to be completely overhauled, new toilets, showers, sinks, urinals and all would need new tile on the walls and the floor. It was going to be a challenge for our squadron to complete this mission.
The work did not stop that first day until 5 p.m. on Sunday and it began early the next day at 7 a.m. with everyone eager to jump back into this project. The nine man roofing crew left early at 6:45 a.m. to start their first day on their project.
We met the Base Commander, Major Buda and our new interpreter, Captain Dozsa. We were briefed on how thrilled they were to have us at their base , to help improve their quality of life.
It was amazing to watch our people working almost nonstop anywhere from 10 to 12 hour days and no one was complaining. Every member of this squadron was focused on accomplishing this mission. I watched our electrical flight, led by Master Sgt. Andy Gordon, tear out old wiring, starting with the attic and working their way down. Master Sgt. Ryan Dalton led our utilities and structure flight, tearing out old tile, replacing entire bathrooms, dry walling, caulking, drilling, doing whatever it took to get the job done. Meanwhile, our nine man roofing team led by 1st Lt. Cory Thobe and Master Sgt. John Klaus were hard at it for their first day. They came back to the base later that evening completely exhausted and ready to tackle the project the next day. There were breaks, but they were well deserved and usually short in nature. There was our 30 minute lunch break, time enough to clean up and eat our MREs and drink plenty of water.
There were still plenty of hurdles to clear, first and foremost was acquiring electrical parts and pieces, a metric socket set, more paint. Lt. Col. Troxel and Chief Master Sgt. Hanna had to order all the materials for the bathrooms and there was no Home Depot or Lowe's nearby. It was a major challenge, causing what could have been a major blow to finishing this project. They were successful in accomplishing this task in large part due to our translator, Capt. Dozsa. I stood back and watched our personnel adjust and overcome all obstacles, even if it meant putting in a 12 to 13 hour day. It was Staff Sgt. Rickard and Senior Airman Kestner working until after midnight grouting the tile in the bathrooms. Despite all of our hard work, we still analyzed we would need to have some individuals volunteer to work on Sunday putting down new tile in the bathrooms. The leadership was out for the day on Sunday, but this did not stop our personnel from stepping forward and making sure the necessary work was completed. We painted doors, window frames, ceilings and then we had to clean up after ourselves. We found a buffer to clean the floors, but it was not easy, it took many phone calls to arrange to find one. The final few days were long and some tempers began to show, but in the end the projects were completed and everyone was able to enjoy the Friday off before beginning our long trip back home. It was a great job done by everyone on this deployment.