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Illinois Air Guard Civil Engineers help Cherokee Nation Veterans

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Ellison,
  • 126th Air Refueling Wing

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Illinois Air National Guard troops are putting their skills to work in another nation, building homes for U.S. military veterans.

The 126th Civil Engineer Squadron is building homes for Cherokee Nation veterans in Oklahoma as part of a continuing Innovative Readiness Training project.

“This is a good opportunity for military personnel to assist the Cherokee Nation,” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Larry Myers, the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance team lead.

The training is a chance for service members to get hands-on experience and provide community partners across the U.S. with much-needed assistance.

“This is really cool,” Senior Airman Jacob Mellenthin said. “I finally get to do the job I trained for; I am getting a lot of good training.”

The 126th is not working on these houses alone; they have members from the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 301st Civil Engineer Squadron, Carswell Field, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.

During their two weeks, the squadrons plan to get two roofing tresses in place and windows and doors installed. In other houses, teams are running electricity, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

The water and fuels systems maintenance team is also installing pipes, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers.

Maj. Matthew Boice, the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, was more than satisfied with the progress being made.

“I always take pride in the squadron’s ability to exceed expectations,” Boice said.

This Innovative Readiness Training mission to build houses for Cherokee Nation veterans started in April 2021.