From the field: Detroit aviators build it from the ground up

>Today’s post comes to us from Avionics Electrical Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer John Foster of Air Station Detroit. It’s his story about the crew coming together to help those in need.

What’s unusual about that is that they did it without sounding the search and rescue alarm or even flying their helicopters. Instead, they gave of their free time and descended upon a community in need to proudly build an entire home for a special needs family.

From AETCS Foster:

“September of last year (2008), the crew of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit participated in an all-hands community service day, partnering with Macomb County Habitat for Humanity. Throughout the day, we worked on three separate houses, performing landscaping, painting, general carpentry and flooring.

This event caused me and several others from the command to start thinking about the possibility of taking on a complete build from start to finish. What started out as a fleeting idea quickly grew into a reality.

(Right: The crew of Air Station Detroit began their home build with the foundation. From there, it took the aviators 2,500 work hours to finish the home in Roseville, Mich. Photo courtesy Air Station Detroit)

Lt. Mike Calderone and Lt. j.g. Scott Stechschulte volunteered to be the project officers and liaisons between Air Station Detroit and Macomb Habitat. I took on the role of unit-volunteer coordinator. After attending several meetings, the unit was finally given a house to build for a family in Roseville, Mich.

We began construction on the new home in December 2008, bracing up the foundation for waterproofing, insulation and backfill.

(Left: The crew of Air Station Detroit began building the Habitat for Humanity House in Dec. 2008, often working in challenging conditions to ensure the project was finished in time for the family to move in during the summer. Photo courtesy Air Station Detroit)

It was cold, wet, muddy and a sign of things to come. We quickly moved on with the construction over the next three weeks and, despite the miserable weather, everyone participating was having a great time.

Our goal was to have the roof on prior to the holidays, but the weather did not cooperate with us. We only got the walls erected before we took our holiday break.

(Right: Everyone at the Air Station in Detroit lent a hand in some way to help complete the all-Coast-Guard-built Habitat for Humanity house in Roseville, Mich. Photo courtesy Air Station Detroit)

We hit it hard after New Year’s and finally finished the house on June 24 this year. Vacuuming my way out the front door, and locking it up for the last time, I knew that it was ready for the family to move into. It was a quality house and we were all proud to say the Coast Guard had built.

Air Station Detroit put in roughly 2500 work-hours of Coast Guard volunteer time building this home. Everyone at the air station participated. Either on-site, swinging a hammer, or back at the unit, covering the duties and responsibilities of those who were working on the house.

(Left: The Coast Guard built home was dedicated during a ceremony in Roseville, Mich., June 26, 2009. Photo courtesy Air Station Detroit)

I can’t speak for everyone who participated, but this has been a very fulfilling event for me. Not only was I helping to provide a much-needed home for a family in the community, but it gave me an opportunity to really get to know everyone that I work with in a way that may have never arisen had we not all decided to pitch in.

(Right: Senior Chief Petty Officer John Foster, Lt. Mike Calderone and Lt. j.g. Scott Stechschulte, along with I.J. Campbell, City of Roseville Community Relations Director dedicate the Habitat for Humanity home built in Roseville, Mich., by the Coast Guard men and women of Air Station Detroit. It took the team 2,500 work hours through the dead of Michigan’s winter to complete the project. Photo courtesy Air Station Detroit.)

This has probably been the best teambuilding exercise Air Station Detroit could ever take part in. It will be a fond memory for everyone who participated.”

Bravo Zulu Air Station Detroit! You all went above and beyond for the folks at Habitat for Humanity, the city of Roseville, and the family who now gets to move into the sturdy house you built.

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