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113 Civil Engineers lend a helping hand to Navajo Nation school

Members of the 113th DC ANG Civil Engineer Squadron assemble for a group shot at the Navajo Code Talkers Memorial, Window Rock, Ariz, May24, 2011 . Members of the 113th CES are in Window Rock, Az., as part of the Innovative Readiness Training, a civil-military affairs program linking military units with civilian communities for humanitarian projects. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Paula Aragon)

Members of the 113th DC ANG Civil Engineer Squadron assemble for a group shot at the Navajo Code Talkers Memorial, Window Rock, Ariz, May24, 2011 . Members of the 113th CES are in Window Rock, Az., as part of the Innovative Readiness Training, a civil-military affairs program linking military units with civilian communities for humanitarian projects. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Paula Aragon)

6/1/2011 WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. -- Members of the District of Columbia Air National Guard are providing construction and renovation support for the St. Michaels Association for Special Education at Window Rock, Ariz. The 113th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed as part of the Nationals Guard's Innovative Readiness Training program. The IRT matches real-world training experience for the National Guard members while providing services for underserved communities in the United States. "It's definitely an opportunity not only to work in our career field and to get training on the skills we need, but also provide a resource to the school," said Major Eric Swanson, 113th Civil Engineer Squadron. Although this IRT consisted mainly of 113CES members, Navy Seabees from Wisconsin and Red Horse engineers from Florida joined in the program. The IRT program is keeping with the long military tradition of the armed forces by providing services to the community while gaining mission-essential training for military units and its service members. "It is a blessing," said Gillis C. Chapela, SMASE executive director. "You can walk around campus and see how old the buildings are, and to have them being worked on and also to have new ones added, it's real heartfelt, as far as what we can look forward to in the future, and we are very grateful for the effort." The SMASE provides education and housing for Navajo children and young adults with special needs. More than eighty Navajo youth live on the SMASE Campus and are drawn from all corners for the Navajo Nation and surrounding states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The campus is the only certified special education school in the entire Navajo Nation The 113th Civil Engineer Squadron is constructing new buildings and providing repairs to existing buildings. The repairs consist of renovating the bathrooms and culverts, upgrading electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. "It makes a big difference helping someone in need, it makes your job easy because you can concentrate on your craftsmanship, and to take pride in what you do, providing a service to people who need it, makes me feel good" Said Tech. Sgt Reginald Downey, 113th Civil Engineering Squadron's HVAC shop supervisor. The work being done is part of a five-year IRT agreement between the National Guard and SMASE. The agreement will include additional renovations on the campus, along with a new nurse's station, additional classrooms, an adult recreation center, a community center, as well as a transportation building for school buses.