CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For two weeks in March 2013, members of the Royal Air Force 3 Wing Construction Engineers Canadian Forces Base, Bagotville, Quebec made the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron at the North Carolina Air National Guard Regional Training Site in New London, N.C. their home.
These Canadian neighbors attended the Deployment for Training Program, an exchange agreement between the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air National Guard that has been in effect since the late 1980’s. This annual exchange program sees Air National Guard personnel deploy to Canada to support construction engineering projects, while two Canadian Construction Engineering Flights of 25 to 50 rotating from wing to wing, go south to the United States to work at facilities managed by the Air National Guard, to do the same. The units gain mobility training, exercise command and control and are given the opportunity to learn a lot of different construction methods and materials. Plus they get the technical and deployment training, experience working with their colleagues from across the border and as a bonus; many projects get completed at Canadian and American bases and facilities.
During these two weeks the 26 Canadians, consisting of firefighters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, HVAC and environmental engineers, worked energetically completing constructing of two, two-story buildings to be used for sleeping quarters and training rooms. They also erected a pre-engineered metal building to be used by the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron firefighters for their training.
While these members were hard at work with construction projects Tech. Sgt. Amanda Amoroso and Tech. Sgt. Lori Greene of the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron, joined forces with Master Corporal David Payette, the only chef deployed with the Royal Air Force 3 Wing. Together they planned, prepared and served meals for the military members.
“I am really glad I was put on this special detail assisting with the Canadians,” said Sgt. Amoroso. “I have learned so much from MCPL Payette who is an actual chef. He’s taught me new recipes and different cooking techniques.”
Lieutenant Sylvan Fournier is the Officer in Charge for the Royal Air Force 3 Wing. This is his first deployment and first year out of officer training.
Fournier said, “As a new officer, I saw the capability of our flight. With a small crew of 26 members we brought our experiences and diversity to a new location giving us great training in preparation from loading a C-130 aircraft to planning and accomplishing work with different tools and material in a new area. I think the mission has definitely helped build bonds between the Canadian’s and National Guard airmen. I look forward to serving with them in missions in the future. I would love to have another opportunity to do another exchange like this.”
Lt. Col. Timothy Moran, Deputy Commander of the 145th Engineer Squadron and Officer in Charge of the North Carolina Regional Training Site expressed his thoughts by stating “I think the biggest benefit we get from this program is that we get a chance to work with one of our allies. Their trades are broken up differently than ours and their construction practices are slightly different. We learn more about their culture and are able to understand them better. Even though they (the Canadians) are close to us we need to learn how they operate. In the world as it is today, we need to learn the most effective ways to work together with our allies to accomplish all the missions that are out there.”
Working hard paid off when the Canadians got the opportunity to see how our communities support the military. When The Centennial Authority in Raleigh, N.C. found out that the Royal Canadian Air Force was in the Charlotte area working with the North Carolina Air National Guard, they wanted to extend their thanks by continuing to show their support for the military and offer them a chance to attend a hockey game. Not just any hockey game but a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montréal Canadians! So after a long day of work, two vans carrying 20 military hockey fans headed to Raleigh.
Before the game started a framed photo of a 145th Airlift Wing C-130 aircraft flying over Charlotte, N.C. was presented to The Centennial Authority by Lt. Col. Timothy Moran.
Jeff Merritt accepted the gift on behave of the company. All members thanked Mr. Merritt for such an awesome opportunity but one grateful Canadian expressed his feelings further.
Master Corporal Paul Merner, a supervisor on one of the projects shook Mr. Merritt’s hand and expressed his overwhelming gratitude by stating, “I have always loved hockey. Being from Newfoundland in Canada, we did not have a NHL hockey team. My parents couldn’t send me to Montréal to watch the Montréal Canadians that I loved so much. I said one day I am going to see them play and here I am, a childhood dream come true!” To add to his dream come true, the Carolina Hurricane’s lose to the Montréal Canadians 4-2.
Bridging the gap is one way to think of it, maybe even building a bridge but either way, the joint Deployment for Training Program continues to help bridge neighboring countries. On the last day after exchanging awards and mementos Lt. Col. Moran added “The professionalism, hard work and dedication shown by the 3 Wing Construction Engineers was outstanding. The amount of work completed far exceeded my expectations.”
When asked how he felt about the “Canes” losing to Montréal he simply stated, “That’s what we call Southern Hospitality!
EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: To see more photos from the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron’s joint operations with the Canadian military, please visit the 145th Airlift Wing Facebook Page at: 145th Civil Engineers Collaborate with Canadian Military.