Charlotte Airmen Deploy to Latvia; Renovate School Facilities as Part of Training Mission

ADAZI, Latvia
Nearly 40 airmen from Charlotte’s 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, began renovation projects at two Latvian schools this week as part of a 15-day training deployment.

“Excellent job here,” said Belmont resident Technical Sgt. Matthew Johnston, of the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron, the unit conducting the mission. “Lots of good training.”

The unit left its base at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Saturday aboard an Alabama Air National Guard KC-135 tanker and flew overnight before landing at the airport in Riga, Latvia’s capital city. They started their renovation work Monday.

Latvia, a small nation of slightly more than two million residents, lies on the Baltic Sea and shares borders with fellow Baltic nations Estonia and Lithuania as well as Belarus and Russia. At one time a republic of the former Soviet Union, Latvia, now part of NATO and the European Union, regained its independence in 1991 when the communist nation disintegrated.

The mission has the airmen honing their military engineering skills by installing a safety fence around a school campus in Adazi not far from the Latvian capital.

“We’re putting in some personnel gates, some rolling gates and some swinging gates,” said Sr. Master Sgt. Jeff Young, also of Belmont. He said working at a school makes the mission especially meaningful.

Air National Guard units from Washington, D.C., and Michigan began the project in early August. The Charlotte airmen will finish the job before heading home Aug. 30.

In the nearby town of Ogre, airmen are putting a new roof on a school building.

“It’s a great training opportunity for our folks in the civil engineering squadron to be able to put our skills to use here,” said Maj. Eric Wallet of Tega Cay, S.C., mission commander.

Beyond the physical renovation of the school buildings, working with Latvian civilian engineers as well as Latvian soldiers reinforces already-strong bonds with an American ally. “It strengthens our cooperation, our international relationship with Latvia,” said Wallet.

The Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Riga oversees the renovation mission, which is funded by U.S. European Command. Called a Humanitarian and Civic Assistance project, this type of mission provides training opportunities for American military units while at the same time adding value to communities in partner nations.

While in Latvia, the North Carolina airmen will live in barracks at the Adazi Military Camp in the tiny village of Kadaga.

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Contact: Lt. Col. Robert Carver
Phone: (919) 664-6000

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