SOUTHWEST ASIA – A resourceful airman’s idea has resulted in the first outdoor hockey rink in this theater of operations.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Joshua Hanson, 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, developed a proposal to build a nearly arena-size hockey rink at his deployed location here.
A new gym floor recently installed in the base fitness center cannot support long-term hockey games, so a plan was put into play to build it at a pavilion near the fitness center.
"We needed a new place, and we had a very ingenious airman who developed a great plan that protected the wing's investment," said Air Force Col. David Sanford, 386th Mission Support Group commander.
"I brought the idea up to my leadership," Hanson said, "then presented my plan of execution to all group commanders of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing." He assured them he had carpentry experience and had helped build public skate parks, he added, so he was confident about the process.
Construction preparation started Jan. 24 in an old bunker near Hanson’s work center. The bunker became his workshop and a gathering point for all donated materials and equipment.
With the support of fellow U.S. airmen and Canadian Master Cpl. Francois Chabot, a Camp Canada carpenter, Hanson was able to bring his rink structure to fruition within four weeks. The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and Camp Canada donated wood and structure fasteners, while a nonprofit charity, "Defending the Blue Line," donated a large amount of hockey equipment.
"This will finally give the hockey community, or people wanting to try hockey, a place to play on a daily basis," Hanson said. "Before, we were restricted to the Flex Fitness Center on Friday nights only, and had to borrow the Canadians’ equipment."
The pavilion is centrally located and allows for more spectators than the gym. Passers-by can stop, observe and participate. "Additionally, the rink is larger than the basketball court and more in line with [hockey regulations]," Sanford noted.
A few volunteer artists from the communications squadron created an assortment of paintings along the hockey rink’s perimeter.
Air Force Maj. Roberts Sides, 386th ECS commander, said he was taken aback when he saw the woodworking skills of his airman and all the drawing concepts by civilian contractor Micheal May, 386th ECS client systems technician.
"[Airman Hanson’s] carpentry skill, along with Mr. May's artistry abilities, has made the hockey rink something that folks will be talking about for quite a long time," he said.
After a March 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony, a game between the United States and Canada brought the new facility to life.
"Josh's devotion to this project spilled over to all the volunteers," Chabot said. "I believe that this boost in morale and welfare is essential to our ongoing joint success here."