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Illinois' 126th Civil Engineer Squadron lends helping hand to Pennsylvania National Guard

By Staff Sgt. Michael Patterson | 126th Air Refueling Wing | August 11, 2017

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - The history of Fort Indiantown Gap extends back to 1755 when colonial settlers established fortification of the area during the French and Indian War. Almost two centuries later, the fort was developed into a National Guard training site at the recommendation of Gen. Edward Martin.

Now operated by members of the Pennsylvania National Guard, it is the busiest National Guard training center in the nation.

World War II reinforced the importance of the training site, which prompted the federal government to invest in a major construction project. By the end of 1941, more than 1,400 buildings were constructed on the site. One of those building was designated as "Building 11-11." During that time, Building 11-11 was used as a storage warehouse.

Today, Building 11-11 is being renovated to serve as a training facility for range safety and coordination briefings.

The 126th Civil Engineer Squadron, an Illinois Air National Guard unit assigned to Scott Air Force Base, arrived at the old warehouse July 22 and is the final civil engineer squadron to assist with the project.

"There were three rotations of Air National Guard Units involved in this project," said Senior Master Sgt. Roger Stine, the site project manager. "The 188 CES from Fort Smith, Arkansas, was the first unit, and the 190 CES from Topeka, Kansas, was the second unit to work on the project."

The rotation of Air National Guard members helped the $1.1 million project move closer to completion.

"The reservation maintenance personnel couldn't begin work on the project," said Stine. "It would have been years before they would be able to renovate the facility. The Air National Guard will complete the majority of the work and leave only a minimal amount of work to complete the project."

Having the extra hands certainly benefits the reservation maintenance personnel, however, the Air National Guard members involved in the project received a benefit as well.

"This is an excellent site to train our traditional craftsmen in civil engineering," said Stine. "There are a variety of tasks such as heating ventilation, air conditioning, an immense amount of structures work, plumbing and electrical work. The Army has worked very well with us and we've had ample supplies to get the job done."

As the project nears completion, Building 11-11's future tenant prepares to conduct its training more efficiently.

"Soon, range operations will have a dedicated training space," said Lt. Col. Daneen Hutton, FTIG director of public works. "Previously, their classes were hosted at any space that was available. The Air National Guardsmen are doing phenomenal work. I'm extremely impressed by their level of workmanship."