Comancheros build houses, give back to community
May 10, 2012
ANTIOCH, Tenn. (May 14, 2012) -- The Comancheros of New Mexico in the 1830's built wealth by raiding and trading. The Comancheros of Fort Campbell helped build a different kind of wealth when traded their time to build houses for Habitat for Humanity Thursday.
Even before lunchtime, more than 20 Soldiers of Company A, 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, made excellent headway in completing several homes in order to bring joy to families in need in Antioch, Tenn.
"There are a lot of people less fortunate than us and don't have the skills to do this," said Spc. Brad Spencer, a crew chief for the unit. "It's awesome that people come out and (volunteer)."
Volunteering to help build a house for a needy family is especially important to Sgt. Fabien Larco, a crew chief. He was born and raised in Haiti, where an earthquake collapsed or severely damaging approximately 250,000 homes in January 2010. While his family's home suffered only minor damage, he said if he'd been in Haiti, he would have certainly volunteered to help those whose homes had been destroyed.
"Since I can't really be there to help out, I might as well help out (families) here," he said.
Stepping forward when needed is what the Comancheros are all about.
Spc. Lawrence Alexander, a crew chief, said teaching his kids to help others is the most valuable lesson he can give them, and he believes in leading by example.
Alexander said he thinks volunteers are in the minority, and wants his children, like himself, to be the ones to step forward when they are called upon to volunteer.
Chip Wilson, the construction director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, admits he sometimes finds himself challenged and would love to see an overabundance of volunteers, but they make do with what they have.
"I depend so much on volunteers," he said. "I see the other side of the coin. I see the people who do volunteer."
Wilson said he appreciates all his volunteers, but finds it especially easy to work with military groups.
"(Soldiers) know teamwork," he said. "I emphasize teamwork, and military folk, they know how to do that. They don't have a problem with one person or two people taking charge and everybody following them, as opposed to 20 individuals going in 20 different directions."
Capt. Ben Summers, the Comancheros company commander, agrees. Teamwork is what makes any mission successful downrange, and this is no different, he said.
Organizational leadership is not the only part of the Comancheros volunteering Wilson appreciates.
"I'm just amazed they're out here volunteering," he said. "They've given so much for their country. Now they're home, and they're still giving. That does impress me greatly."
The Comancheros not only helped the community, they also honed valuable skills needed in a deployed environment.
Spencer said he began developing his construction skills at the age of five, which came in handy during one particular deployment, he said.
"We had to move and pretty much build up the base we were living on," he said.
For someone who has never deployed, what they would learn volunteering to construct a house could improve their living conditions downrange, he said.
"We have a lot of expert carpenters," Summers laughed.
His Soldiers have had to build not only a command post, but some furniture to go inside it, as well as furniture for their own rooms, he said.
"They even built a driving range," Summers said.
The communities surrounding Fort Campbell have been strong supporters of the 101st Airborne Division and its Soldiers. This event provided an opportunity for Soldiers to reciprocate and provide voluntary service to the Nashville community.
"While we're deployed, our Families and communities from home support us," Summers said. "We couldn't do what we do at all without that support from home. (Now that we're) home, it's time to give back to those communities and people who have done (so much) for us."
Summers said he would like to see the unit volunteering two or three times a year with Habitat for Humanity with more participants, including Family members.
Helping needy families purchase their first home is what the American Dream is all about, Summers said.
"It brings it all together," he said. "It's why we're in the service. We believe in (this) country and (its) principles. If you work hard, you can build something nice for you and your family."