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131st Civil Engineers provide humanitarian support

WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- Members of the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Civil Engineering Squadron traveled to Oahu this week as part of an Innovative Readiness Training mission to improve living conditions at an adult daycare center.

The squadron is responsible for completing several civil engineering projects for Camp Pineapple 808, located on the Helemano Plantation. The camp provides adult daycare services geared towards elderly, disadvantaged and disabled adults.

Missouri Guard members will insulate, hang drywall, paint and provide plumbing and flooring for cabins at the camp. The cabins are being constructed for group living facilities for elderly and disabled residents.

They will also build an awning for the wellness center, dig sewage trenches for the cabin sites and outdoor theater, complete electrical work on the cabins and meet with inspectors to ensure compliance with electrical codes for all the buildings on the camp.

Susanna Cheung, chief executive officer of Helemano Plantation since 1980, began planning for the Camp Pineapple 808 in 2005. When she heard about the IRT mission, she immediately sent an application to the National Guard Bureau to request help.

The following year, the IRT mission at Helemano was underway.

The objective of the camp is to help elderly and disabled individuals in the community. The camp provides social services through their non-profit corporation for charitable and educational purposes, while supplying necessary vocational training, job opportunities and support services for the community.

"The idea of Camp Pineapple 808 is to present opportunities for job training, employment and entertainment," said Cheung. "We'd like to employ as many people as possible to help the community during these tough economic times and improve the lives of elderly and disabled individuals at the same time."

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the cabins is set for Aug. 26.

Cheung's plans for the future of Camp Pinneapple 808 will include additional facilities and an evergreen project, which includes planting olive oil, tea and lavender creating beautiful scenery for guests at the camp. If approved, four townhouses and an outdoor movie theater will also be built at the camp within the next year.

Guard officials said while in Hawaii, the unit will acquire training that they normally would not get at home.

"The four purposes of Innovative Readiness Training missions are for Air National Guard members to obtain hands-on training, provide community service, recruitment and strengthen the military and community bond," said Lt. Col. Stephen Caton, Innovative Readiness Training program manager at the Air National Guard Readiness Center on Joint Base Andrews, Md.

The Guard's IRT project will end on June 20.

"The Air National Guard has played a huge role in helping us build our dream," Cheung said. "I really don't think we'd be sitting here right now if it wasn't for the Guard's help."