1st Lt. William D. Thomson
84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP — Traveling within the Hawaiian islands is a unique opportunity that people from all over the world dream of doing.
For many military members and their families stationed on Oahu, inter-island traveling is an affordable experience that can be enjoyed during a four-day weekend, as a break from the daily demands of active duty service.
Therefore, when Soldiers of the 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, were called on to conduct a construction mission at Kilauea Military Camp, located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, they were eager to use their carpentry and masonry skills to enhance the historic camp for future tourists of all ranks to enjoy.
The Big Island is often a popular destination for military travelers because of its diverse climate and excellent Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities.
Recently, 27 “Rough Neck” Soldiers from 643rd Eng. Co.’s 1st Platoon and six Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 84th Eng. Bn., lived and worked at KMC to complete the mission.
The 33 Soldiers — comprised of carpentry and masonry specialists, electricians, plumbers, concrete and asphalt equipment operators and a surveyor — came together to successfully complete the construction of a retaining wall.
The goal of the project was to protect the former campfire house, which had been renovated into a six-bedroom, three-bathroom guest cottage, from further damage caused by erosion and deterioration.
Soldiers also worked alongside members of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s Directorate of Public Works, which provided employees as equipment operators to dig the foundation for the retaining wall, as well as oversee construction with the platoon leadership on site.
“The relationship we developed with DPW was essential in constructing a quality product, ahead of schedule,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Miller, platoon sergeant, 643rd Eng. Co. “Their workers had a lot of experience that our Soldiers were able to learn from during each phase of the mission. As appreciation for the support they gave us, we were able to give back at the end of our project by helping with other small camp improvement projects.”
Not only was the project important to preserving a historic building, especially as KMC just celebrated its 95th year of serving military families, it also had immense training value for the Soldiers involved.
The installation of more than 900 concrete masonry unit blocks, which made up the retaining wall, acted as a great train-up for the Rough Necks as they prepare to deploy to the Philippines in March 2012, as part of the annual Balikatan joint training exercise.
“Working at KMC was a perfect opportunity for Soldiers to cross train outside their mission occupation specialties and learn carpentry and masonry skills they will need to build the school in the Philippines,” said Staff Sgt. James Rose, squad leader, 643rd Eng. Co. “They need to adapt to building the structures the climate supports because construction is our main mission in the Pacific. It was great to get hands-on experience.”
In addition to the training value of mission-essential tasks, the platoon enjoyed the amenities KMC has to offer.