By Sgt. Brandon Jacobs
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
TOPEKA, Kan. – Soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Detachment 1, 226th Engineer Company out of Pittsburg used their skills during annual training to complete several construction projects at Forbes Field Air Force Base in Topeka for two weeks in July. The diversity of the projects required the full spectrum of the unit’s capabilities to accomplish.
“We’re vertical engineers, so that basically means anything from the ground up,” said Spc. Joseph Nusbaum, plumber. “We have carpenters, masons, electricians and plumbers.”
Nusbaum worked with a crew of over a dozen Soldiers pouring two concrete ramps to facilitate the delivery of large packages via forklift or pallet jack. Rain delayed the concrete project but the Soldiers overcame the moisture and dried the base of the pour before the concrete truck arrived.
“This is a small sized project to us,” said Nusbaum. “But, it’s a huge deal to the people in this building.”
Although not a mason by trade, Nusbaum explained that oftentimes engineer units are given missions that require everyone to pull together to complete the work.
“We like to cross-train,” said Nusbaum. “I’m a plumber by trade, but these guys needed more people so I’m helping out on this job.”
Second Lieutenant Jonathan Bailey, 2nd Platoon platoon leader for Det. 1, 226th Eng., agreed that this year’s annual training was an opportunity for everyone to do a little bit of everything.
“Essentially anything that Forbes has asked us to do, we’ve stepped in and taken it over,” said Bailey. “We are training on every single task on this AT. This is amazing training for our Soldiers.”
Spc. Joshua Hooper, interior electrician, worked on installing lighting in a room which was being renovated and discussed how the Kansas Army National Guard fit into his civilian career.
“When I was in high school I decided I wanted to join the Guard and I had to pick a military occupational specialty,” said Hooper. “I decided I wanted something I’d be able to fall back on in case something doesn’t work out.”
What started off as an interest has since turned into much more.
“On the civilian side I wasn’t really going anywhere with my career, so I decided I’d take what the Guard gave me knowledge on and go explore that,” said Hooper. “Now I’m on my way to being a journeyman electrician in the next two years. When I first picked my MOS I was in a trades program in high school, so since I liked electrical work, I figured I’d do this. Now, five years later it’s my career path on the civilian side.”
Hooper said one of the things he enjoys is being able to transfer his knowledge between his Guard and civilian jobs.
“I’ve gotten to take what I do in the civilian world and share what I know with others on the Guard side,” said Hooper. “The Guard has given me a lot more leadership experience, and that’s always good to learn.”
Bailey, who began his National Guard career as an enlisted Soldier, also envisions a full career in the KSARNG because of the reliable retirement and healthcare benefits, and because of the way it compliments his civilian life.
“I like my civilian life, but I also want to serve my country,” said Bailey. “In the Guard I get the best of both worlds. I really like that I feel needed by the community.”