By Earl Bittner, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs
NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Four employees with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast's Public Works Department (PWD) New Orleans were activated by the Louisiana Air National Guard Aug. 13 to support flood relief efforts in Louisiana.
Chief Master Sgt. Melchor Delin, chief of operations for the Air National Guard and a supervisory facilities management specialist at the PWD; Tech. Sgt. Chris Sapia, a electrical power production craftsman for the Air National Guard and facilities support contract manager at the PWD; Staff Sgt. Jonathan Randall, a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) journeyman for the Air National Guard and PWD; and Senior Airman Alexander Dillard, a HVAC apprentice for the Air National Guard and a HVAC and refrigeration journeyman at the PWD, all work full-time for PWD New Orleans at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) New Orleans in Belle Chase, Louisiana.
All four men are traditional Air National Guard members of the 159th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) out of New Orleans. They each received a call and were activated to assist with emergency flood operations in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area immediately following flooding that occurred Aug. 12.
"I am absolutely proud to work with these four gentlemen in support of the Louisiana [Air] National Guard," said NAS JRB New Orleans Public Works Officer Lt. Cmdr. Micah Kiletico. "Their dedication and response to the service of those in need is remarkable at a time when many folks in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas needed them most. Without hesitation, each of these gentlemen responded to the call of duty."
Delin serves part-time as the 159th CES chief of operations and has served with the Air National Guard for over 28 years. He was one of the first called up for state active duty Aug. 13 right after the flooding started. He served for nine days and was called upon to stand-up the Emergency Operations Center for the squadron.
"My job entailed initiating the immediate recall of CES personnel and have them report in to the base for assignment to flood missions," said Delin. "We ensured requirements were met and the right people were sent to the right location."
Delin's days were filled with coordinating missions and reporting the daily accountability of the personnel.
"The most impressive part about my time at the EOC was to see the tired looks on the Airmen returning from missions and their willingness to go back out later to keep helping out," he added.
Sapia, Randall and Dillard have all served with the Louisiana Air National Guard since 2007.
Dillard was assigned to one of several shelters performing security. Randall was assigned to the bus mission that transported people from the affected areas to the nearest shelter.
Sapia was called up Aug. 14, when he immediately boarded a school bus in Belle Chasse and headed to Baton Rouge.
"We were on standby until August 17 when we headed to the Carville National Guard base," said Sapia. "We ended up in Lamar Dixon, which was used as a shelter. I was primarily assigned to walk through an RV park."
The men understood they were there to help in any way they could.
"I was glad to be there and was actually able to help a woman get her cell phone working," Sapia claimed.
Sapia was extremely impressed with everyone's willingness to help each other out.
"There were people who had flooded homes, but they were out there cooking hundreds of meals for other people for free," said Sapia. "I also witnessed displaced kids from one shelter going over to volunteer to help others. It was just a really cool thing to witness."
"It's an honor to be associated with them day in and day out," said Kiletico of his fellow guardsmen. "I am not surprised as they are dedicated to the work they do here on base, and now I have seen them in action helping our community."
The main mission of the 159th CES is to provide an integrated team of professionals for planning, building, sustaining, and protecting the base and its environment for the community while providing combat-ready, deployable engineering forces.
The 159th CES is subordinate to the 159th Mission Support Group whose 500 members provide support for all base support and customer service for the 159th Fighter Wing and the geographically separated units at their sites throughout the state. The group also maintains combat and contingency readiness forces that deploy worldwide. This group encompasses the communications flight, civil engineering squadron, logistics readiness squadron, contracting, security forces squadron and the force support squadron.