CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – The military has an instructional manual for almost everything, but Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Wray knows experience is not in any manual, and that there’s no better way to gain it than having a mentor.
Wray is a construction builder assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15, but his computer talents have resulted in his assignment to the training department here.
“At first, I thought I was going to helping for a few days,” he said. “It turned into a full-time position.”
Wray soon found himself permanently assigned to Headquarters Company’s training shop managing the Advanced Skills Management program instead of serving in E Company as a builder. But when an opportunity to work on a camp maintenance project presented itself, Wray seized the opportunity.
“I saw it as an opportunity to get some real builder rate training, so I accepted,” he said.
For this project, Wray was assigned under the tutelage of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Niles to assist him with a complete door installation, including wall, studs and frame, at the Combat Logistics Regiment 2 compound. Niles is an experienced builder with six years of experience in the Seabees, and even more as a full-time civilian construction worker.
After arriving at the construction site, the two loaded their materials and began to work.
“I prefabricated the door and showed [Wray] how to frame it up, and then we installed it,” Niles said. “If you don’t do it every day, you are going to have a little bit of a struggle.”
Wray appreciated the help he got from Niles. “At first, I was kind of rusty,” he said. “It was kind of nice to get back out and build.”
Niles mentored Wray through the project and assisted him when necessary. He noted that it wasn’t long before Wray regained his form and that he had little trouble for the rest of the project.
As he watched Wray work, Niles said, he was aware that having more experienced Seabees mentoring junior ones on projects like this is important.
“I think it’s good to have mentors, because you are saving a lot time by preventing them from running into mistakes that you once made yourself,” he explained. “I think there’s a lot to learn from it.”
After completing the project, Wray also noted that having Niles present was essential not only for getting the job done in a timely manner, but also for helping him to exercise his skill set.
“It was definitely nice having [Petty Officer] Niles there,” he said. “And with his help, I was able to pick up a few skills.”