Sustainment Soldiers travel to JBB to renovate buildings for future occupancy by replacement units

Story and photos by Sgt. John Stimac
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) came from various locations in Iraq to work on a renovation project that began March 15 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

Renovations are being done to two buildings that are currently not occupied, but will belong to the 3rd Sustainment Brigade when they arrive at JBB in April.

Spc. Jon Voelkel, an operations specialist with the 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde., said he came from Contingency Operating Base Q-West to complete minor repairs, cleaning and beautification projects to the building.

"We are setting the standard for how we do things … so we can hand it off to the next brigade that occupies this building," he said.

Voelkel, a Pensacola, Fla., native, said the buildings needed a lot of work to make them ready to be used for operations. He said they have been working for about a week and should be finished in approximately one month.

"Right now I have been cleaning, painting, pressure washing and taking trash out of the building," he said. "It makes me feel good to come here … and turn it into a good final product."

Staff Sgt. William Woodward, a platoon sergeant with the 387th Human Resource Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde. and a Princeton, Mo., native, said his commander had recommended him to the battalion commander for the renovation project at JBB.

"They saw the job we did at the post office at Al Asad (Air Base) and asked if I could go there and give them some assistance," he said.

Woodward said he has more than 19 years of carpentry and construction work experience in the civilian sector.

"It makes me feel good that somebody notices," he said. "I am glad to lend my services in any way possible."

Woodward said he will be dividing one building in half to make two supply rooms.

"It seems that there will be two companies cohabitating the same building, so they will each have their own supply room now," he said.

Woodward said they are completely renovating another building to make a new tactical operations center, as well as re-plumbing and building desks to fill it.

"There has been another unit helping us, and they have already started cutting and pre-assembling some components for that TOC," he said.

Woodward said he is looking forward to working with all the Soldiers assigned to this project.

"So far it looks like they have been working really hard and getting everything cleaned up first so we can start building rooms," he said.

Sgt. 1st Class James Blakely, the operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the 15th STB and a Mobile, Ala., native, said upon seeing the building he wondered if he had enough people to complete the mission in time.

"With the Soldiers that I have and the work they have already been doing, it is going to be too easy," he said. "Our main goal is to make these buildings a functional workplace for the 3rd Sustainment Brigade. We plan on having both buildings up and operational by the 22nd of April."

The 514th Maintenance Company out of Fort Drum, N.Y., has been assisting with the project by providing building supplies, said Blakely.

"They have been helping us out with a lot of projects by supplying wood and building desks for us," he said. "The support of this unit from the direction of the 13th SC(E) has really been helping us."

Blakely said the special civilian skill sets Soldiers bring to the Army make these jobs possible.

"This helps us get our job done here, and I appreciate all their hard work and dedication," he said.


news photo
Spc. Jon Voelkel, an operations specialist with the 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Pensacola, Fla., native, paints curbs as part of a renovation project March 19 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The 3rd Sustainment Brigade will occupy the building when the unit arrives in April.