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419th Civil Engineers help relocate Alaskan village

Villagers from Newtok, Alaska, pose with Air Force reservists in the 419th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on Aug. 8.

Villagers from Newtok, Alaska, pose with reservists from the 419th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on Aug. 8, 2019. The reservists are currently serving their two weeks to help relocate and rebuild the remote town after melting permafrost made its original location uninhabitable. (Courtesy photo)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- Villagers from the remote town of Newtok, Alaska, greeted a team of 23 personnel from the 419th Civil Engineer Squadron Aug. 8 with traditional food and dancing.

The team is made up of heavy equipment, utilities, planning, electrical and heating ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, experts who will help rebuild the recently relocated town after melting permafrost left it uninhabitable.

Staff Sgt. John Ohlwiler, heavy equipment noncommissioned officer in charge, called the endeavor a “great opportunity” for reservists to put their training and skills to use while helping to safely rebuild a community.

With the nearest interstate highway roughly 600 miles away, 419th CES personnel were transported to the village by helicopter. Their tools and supplies were brought in via a barge on local waterways.

The massive project is part of the Innovative Readiness Training initiative that joins together Army, Air Force and Navy forces to support key community services across the United States. IRT pairs local resources with military manpower who benefit from the hands-on training.

The CES personnel supported the rebuild project as part of their two weeks of annual tour training, which serves to hone their skills and prepare them for deployment.

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