Kentucky ANG Airmen help renovate school in Moldova

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard in partnership with officials from Moldova and U.S. European Command started a humanitarian project here June 3 that’s expected to last several weeks.

The humanitarian project began with refurbishing the only school for hearing-impaired students in the area and adding a new basketball court outside.

The project required demolishing the existing kitchen, updating electrical service and plumbing, and installing new tile, appliances and an improved food preparation area, according to Lt. Col. Phillip Howard, the commander of the Kentucky ANG's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron.

"We're here to improve the school for the students, and that's the most important thing for us," Howard said. "We want to do everything we can to make this a great project for the community."

At the same time, the project also provides the guardsmen with "an outstanding opportunity to train in a deployed environment while strengthening bilateral relations with our Moldovan colleagues," Howard said. "We're excited to be here and excited about the project."

Working side by side with the Airmen are five members of the Moldovan armed forces.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brendan Bartlett, chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation Moldova, emphasized that no nation can confront today's challenges alone.

"What the Air National Guardsmen do here will have a profound effect on the school and on the community as a whole," he said. "We have had a long-standing relationship with the National Guard Bureau and are very grateful for their efforts here."

In addition to the renovation project, the Airmen are volunteering their time to help with minor repairs to La Via Moldova, a local after-school program for at-risk students.

Assisting in the overall effort are U.S. Army reservists from the 457th Civil Affairs Detachment based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, who are supporting communication and cultural understanding between the ANG and local Moldovan community.

"Our mission is to support the engineers by making sure the community understands why they are here," explained U.S. Army Maj. Kris Chow, the civil affairs team commander.

The Kentucky ANG is expected to complete its portion of the project in mid-June before handing off the remainder of the work to the Iowa ANG's 185th Civil Engineer Squadron from Sioux City, Iowa.

The overall scope of the project is two-fold, according to U.S. Air Force Capt. Adam McIntyre, the duration project manager and an engineering officer for the 185th CES.

"This project allows guardsmen to utilize and hone their skills in new and challenging environment," McIntyre said. "But, we are also here to build a better future for the Moldovan people."