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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2012

Germany: Wyoming Air National Guard engineers tackle construction projects at NATO School

By Staff Sgt. Natalie Stanley, U.S. Air Force 153rd Airlift Wing

OBERAMMERGAU, Germany - The nearby mountains echoed with the sounds of hammers pounding, heavy equipment rumbling past and general construction early on Aug. 13 as members of the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Civil Engineer Squadron began various construction projects at the NATO School here.

For the members of the 153rd CES's structure shop, the task at hand was completing a car port project at the NATO School recreation center.

The members of the structure shop are self-labeled, "jack of all trades," said Air Force to Staff Sgt. Brad Ketcher, a carpenter with the unit.

"We can cover everything from rough framing, forming up concrete, pouring concrete, laying brick, drywall and some sheet metals and welding," said Ketcher.

Members receive their initial training on many of these skills at a six month hands-on technical school in Gulfport, Miss. They also learn attention to detail, with a lot of math and measurements required.

"It takes a lot of measurements to get everything square when building," said Ketcher. "Sometimes it takes a lot of time to get everything correct, but it'll be done right and that's the quality of work that we do."

For this particular project, the six members of the structure team had a lot of work to accomplish.

Over the next two weeks they will set up batter boards to find a square to work from, complete prep work for brackets that will hold the main support beams of the structure and lay fast set concrete, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Brad Catron.

With many of the structure team members new to working together this job provides the perfect opportunity to broaden their skill set in a real world environment.

"This training is a win-win situation for both us and NATO," said Air Force Lt. Col. Stan White, commander of the 153rd CES. "We receive real-world training and the NATO school receives free labor."

With a lot of work ahead, the team is focused and ready to get down to business.

"This is a great project to be on, with a great group to work with and a lot of really skilled people," said Catron.