Building a better environment: Kentucky’s ADT 4 works to improve living conditions in Afghanistan

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans, KY ADT 4 Unit Public Affairs and Historian Representative

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Sgt. Bobby Sizemore (left), a resident of Lawrenceburg, Ky. measures a building’s foundation with Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathon Stribling (right), a resident of Louisville, Ky. on May 3, 2012 in southern Afghanistan. The two members of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 were helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan—Amidst their efforts to help improve the lives of local farmers through education, a few Soldiers with Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 have taken up a secondary project: improving their own environment. In the process, ADT 4 is also building a foundation to help ADT 5 function more effectively when they arrive at the end of 2012.

“They’re (ADT 5) going to have it made. With the three buildings that we have in mind right now, it’s going to be a huge boost for them because they’re not going to be so spread out,” said Master Sgt. John Black, a 45-year-old Frankfort, Ky., native, residing in Lawrenceburg, Ky. “Everything’s going to be in close proximity and everybody’ll be working pretty much side-by-side… not like us, all spread out everywhere.”

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Black, who is leading ADT 4’s construction crew, has served in the Kentucky Army National Guard for nearly 28 years. He spent 27 of those years working as a technician in Frankfort while working as a general contractor on the side, building houses and rental properties. Before coming to Afghanistan, Black served as the 1st Sgt. in Frankfort’s B Co., 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, 138th Fires Brigade.

Black recalled his early years building things.

“Well, I started probably about 15 years ago remodeling a house with my dad in Frankfort. Everything was self-taught,” he said. “After a couple years, I just started doing contract work on my own. I built my own house. Then once I built my first house, I just got the bug and started building (more often).”

Balancing construction and military life wasn’t always easy, as Black described it.

“Long days and very short nights,” he said.

“Working with wood, it’s pretty relaxing to me. You just kind of take all that other stuff, put it off to the side,” Black said. “It just gives me something to do and reminds me of home.”

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Pictured left to right: Spc. Russell Woosley of Smithfield, Ky.; Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathon Stribling of Louisville, Ky.; and Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin McDonald of Louisville, Ky. hold a foundation’s boards in place for nailing in southern Afghanistan on May 3, 2012. The three were helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

According to Black, there have been a few challenges so far with ADT 4’s building project gathering materials.

“The Seabees have helped us out a bunch. A few other guys here have helped us out with (other materials),” Black said.

“The colonel (Col. Tom Barrier) has been pretty good about going out and finding stuff. He’s built a pretty good relationship here with people on the base, and can get just about anything he’s wanted, additional tools, all that,” Black added. “We’re pretty fortunate.”

“I don’t have a crew that knows how to do everything.  I have to stop and teach people what to do. It’s kind of a challenge sometimes,” he said.

“I have never done construction before in my life, so it’s a pretty awesome experience,” said Spc. Courtney Stewart, a 21-year-old Taylorsville, Ky. native who comes from Shelbyville, Ky.’s 1163rd Medical Company.

“I learned how to build a roof. I’ve never done that before in my life,” said Stewart. “I learned how to frame in doors and how to read a tape measure… I’ve never been able to do that before,” she added with a big smile.

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Sgt. 1st Class Jackie Pogue, a resident of Winchester, Ky. measures wood cuts on May 11, 2012 in southern Afghanistan. The member of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4was helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

“The guys that are involved with it, my team, they love it,” Black said. “They’re staying busy, time’s going by quick for them, they’re loving every minute of it.”

“My favorite part is probably everybody joking on one another. It’s pretty fun,” Stewart said. “I’m in a guy’s world here, so it’s fun to crack up once in a while.”

Black said he plans on building multiple offices to help ADT 4 and ADT 5 function more effectively, as well as some solid buildings for housing to replace tents.

“It’ll be pretty nice from what the colonel’s wanting,” Black said. “He wants it all laid out for the Ag Team. When it’s completed and it looks good, you can walk away from it knowing it isn’t going to blow down.”

“We’re doing the best with what we’ve got,” Black added.

“I think it’ll definitely be good for ADT 5 whenever they get over here because they’ll be able to use it however they need to and it’ll already be here,” Stewart said.

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