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Reservists build health facility for Georgia town devastated by tornado

Talbotton, Georgia

A house in Talbotton, Georgia, remains standing amidst splintered trees after a tornado touched down March 3, 2019. Talbotton has a population of 856 people and a median income of $19,452. (Courtesy photo)

New medical and dental facility in Talbotton, Georgia

U.S. Air Force civil engineer Airmen set the frame of the new community medical and dental facility in Talbotton, Georgia, May 21, 2019. Airmen from five different bases contributed to the building the facility as part of an Innovative Readiness Training. (Courtesy photo)

New medical and dental facility in Talbotton, Georgia

U.S. Air Force Airmen frame the Valley Healthcare Services medical and dental facility, spanning nearly 7,000 square feet, in Talbotton, Georgia. Twenty-nine Civil Engineer Squadron personnel, with 7 different Air Force specialty codes represented from 4 bases helped construct the frame of the building during the first phase of the process. (Courtesy photo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- U.S. Air Force 931st, 482nd, 442d Reserve Civil Engineering Squadrons, and the 116th Air National Guard Civil Engineering Squadron, sent a total of 71 CES personnel to the town of Talbotton, Georgia to build a medical and dental facility.

On March 3, 2019, the town, with a population of 856 and a median income of $19,452, was struck by a tornado.

The CE Squadrons were tasked to complete the medical and dental facility for the town in less than 90 days with limited experienced personnel starting May 16 as part of an Innovative Readiness Training. This 7000 square foot facility will be the only facility to serve the community within 50 square miles.

An IRT is a Department of Defense military training opportunity, exclusive to the United States and its territories, that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Key services include healthcare, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity.

Senior Master Sgt. William Bryant 442d Civil Engineering Squadron Infrastructure superintendent, is the Construction Project Manager for the Air Force Reserve Command mission down in Talbotton.

“As with any deployment we are challenged with the meshing of forces,” Bryant said. “With this project the experience and job knowledge dictated the pace of the work, not the stripes or bars. The structures personnel and experienced civilian carpenters were the backbone throughout this build.”

The 71 CES personnel from five different bases faced constant challenges and adversities on a day to day basis, each of the squadrons gave constant effort throughout the time frame.

“Most of the personnel are not trained or have experience as carpenters, so we have been teaching as we work,” Bryant said. “We will do whatever it takes to help the mission go forward.”

This AFRC driven IRT project had been in the works since last year, the town of Talbotton has not had a medical facility, even prior to the tornado.

“It was intended to start a little sooner than when it actually did,” Bryant reports. “The timing of this construction could not have been any better, we are building a medical and dental facility to serve this town and the surrounding communities.”

“The several members from different bases coming together as one attributed to the project’s success,” Bryan said. “The people that live here have been so welcoming and thankful to us and the military in general, it really helps motivate our team just knowing how much this means and how much they appreciate it.”

Rebuilding the community makes a positive impact on Talbotton and provides hands-on real world training for the CE personnel.

“Personally, I could not be any prouder of all the Air Force members that have represented us here, the work has been hard, the days are long and miserably hot, but the teamwork and positive attitudes did not waiver,” Bryant said. “This has been a good experience and a great training opportunity for the all the CE personnel involved.”