Former Navy Seabee puts skills to good use with Kentucky’s ADT 4

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

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Spc. Michael Hilario, a member of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 who resides in Lexington, Ky. looks over floor being built on May 3, 2012 in southern Afghanistan. Hilario was helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan— “No matter what we have to go through and the hard things we have to deal with, to be able to know that you’re here to help others, it’s a way of life just because it’s the way I was raised,” said Spc. Michael Hilario, a 47-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., native, who resides in Lexington, Ky. Hilario is currently deployed with the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 in Afghanistan.

Back in Kentucky, Hilario has served as an electrician with the Army National Guard’s 149th Vertical Engineering Detachment, 201st Engineer Battalion in Cynthiana, Ky. since joining the Guard after leaving the Navy Reserves in 2008. During his ten years with the Navy, Hilario deployed to Iraq twice as a SeaBee, spent two years active, earning the prestigious Seabee Combat Warfare device and Fleet Marine Force ribbon.

As a Seabee, Hilario was part of a Navy construction battalion from 1998 to 2008 that is well-known within the military for their ability to build just about anywhere in the world.

“I was active for right at two years. I was on the USS Kittyhawk for a little bit and the USS Antietam out west in California, (then) I was out of the service for a very short period of time and wanted to get back into the Seabees for my skills… I’ve been an electrician for over 18 years,” Hilario recalled.

“I’m a general contractor. That’s what I do best, so I got with the Seabees and went to Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad…we built airstrips, medevac hospitals, schools. It’s quite a good feeling to know you can go over and help people like that,” Hilario said.

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Pictured left to right: Master Sgt. John Black of Frankfort, Ky.; Spc. Russell Woosley of Smithfield, Ky.; Spc. Michael Hilario of Lexington, Ky.; and Staff Sgt. Mark Arnold of Harrodsburg, Ky. assess their next step constructing a building (not pictured) in southern Afghanistan on May 3, 2012. The four were helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

In Afghanistan, Hilario has put his past as a Seabee to good use by helping with ADT 4’s construction projects and serving as a liaison with the Seabees at FOB Pasab.

“Things that we’ve needed, I’ve been able to go over and obtain,” Hilario noted. “The things that they’ve needed, I’ve been able to help them as well. It’s brotherhood taking care of brotherhood here. It’s all family.”

“Just having prior service and knowing how when you get on the FOB, you’re very limited on resources. I guess just the Seabee experience that I’ve had… I’ve always been able to find a way to obtain some things, you know, anything that we need. Sometimes you’ve just got to look at the resources you have on the FOB and use everything you have,” Hilario explained.

“It’s helped our way of life here on FOB Pasab,” Hilario said. “That’s what it’s all about. I believe in helping others. That’s the way I was raised.”

“It’s pretty evident that he knows how to do electric work pretty good,” said Master Sgt. John Black, a 45-year-old Lawrenceburg, Ky. resident. Black works as a supervisor to Hilario on ADT 4’s ongoing construction projects. “He’s (also) a jack-of-all-trades.”

“My goal on this mission is… about helping others. I can help those that are less fortunate than I. That’s what it’s truly all about, that’s why I’m in the service now,” Hilario said.

“My dad’s a retired (Navy) Chief, my grandfather a retired (Navy) Master Chief, and on down the line,” he said. “To help others is not about myself. My goals of being are just to help others, that’s my personal goal. I wanted to be a part of the Agribusiness Development Team because I knew they were doing some good things here.”

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Spc. Michael Hilario, a member of the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 who resides in Lexington, Ky. measures wood before cutting it on May 3, 2012 in southern Afghanistan. Hilario was helping build hardened structures to make life more comfortable for ADT 4, and eventually ADT 5 as well. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans/Released)

Hilario has three children at home, two whom he says have learned to deal with him deploying.

“My oldest two, Britney, 21, Michael, 18, they’ve been through it a couple of times. They know it’s hard, but they’re military children,” Hilario said. “It’s gotten hard the first couple of times, but now they’re understanding how things are, what we’re here for, what we’re here to do, and they know this is part of daddy’s life as well as theirs.”

“The youngest, he’s getting ready to turn three, and he’s not really aware. I’m sure the video I sent him made him aware, let him know where dad’s going. He’ll look back on it in the years to come. We’ll sit down and we’ll talk about it too.”

“After Afghanistan, I’ll probably go home for a couple months and probably kind of a take it easy for a little bit. If they need me back, I’d go back again. I wouldn’t hesitate.”

“This is a family tradition here, and there’s no amount of money that can ever replace the feeling that you get when you’re able to help out people in your community and your country,” said Hilario. “There’s nothing like the feeling of going and helping people.”

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