Building from the ground up
November 16, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A small area in Birmingham received a big push from a group of U.S. Army Reservists during an innovative readiness training exercise; which was not only to sharpen their skills but also to make one woman's dream of owning her own home finally come true.
Soldiers from the 465th Engineer Company (Vertical), 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, conducted construction operations in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity project on Nov. 3. The soldiers utilized their training as framers, electricians, plumbers and other construction-related skills to help build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Birmingham.
"The community has been supporting us while we've been at war the last 10 years, so it's time for us to give back," said 2nd Lt. Thomas Gambill, 2nd platoon leader for the 465th. "This is something as a unit that we all really wanted to be a part of."
Gambill said the exercise was of special significance to him because he often volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as a high school student.
"I always get a lot of joy in my heart in meeting with the people who will actually live in the houses that I help to build working with Habitat for Humanity," Gambill said. "This is a really good cause and a great way to help out deserving people."
In addition to helping out a good cause, Gambill said it was a chance for the soldiers of the 465th to brush up on their job-related skills. The soldiers performed rough framing operations on the construction project.
"This very much ties in with what we do as an engineer company because we construct buildings from the ground up," Gambill said. "It's very important as soldiers that we test and improve upon our skills at any opportunity so that we can accomplish any mission we are given."
Staff Sgt. Ricardo Monteagudo, 2nd platoon sergeant of the 465th, said the exercise was a chance for civilians to see soldiers as real human beings who care about their communities.
"We want people to see that the Army has more than just a war-time mission," Monteagudo said. "We're making a difference in people's lives. We feel good about that."
One woman who greatly appreciates the efforts of the 465th's efforts is Lyn Thomas, who will live in the Habitat for Humanity house the soldiers helped to build.
"These soldiers, who are helping, are getting me and my family into our house that much quicker," Thomas said. "To see the military out here helping us, it's such an awesome feeling. I never expected the Army to come out and help us, but they sure did."
Thomas said she and her three children have lived in an apartment for the last 12 years.
"It's so exciting to finally have something of my own," she said. "And my 15-year-old daughter is so happy because she finally gets to have her own bedroom."