Monday, March 12, 2007

Civilians Lend Soldiers a Helping Hand

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — On almost every camp, forward operating base and patrol base renovations are being made to improve the quality of life for the Soldiers who work and reside there.
To assist with the many renovations, there are civilian contractors in country to help Soldiers get the job done.
Recently, civilians from Kellogg, Brown and Root, a company that assists the military, have helped to make the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Tactical Operation Center feel more like home.
“I am here to help the Soldiers,” said Randy Frnka, a KBR carpenter and native of Austin, Texas. “My main goal is to make them feel like they are at home, and I like seeing them happy.”
Frnka and his crew, Carlito Salvador and Felix Remocaldo, who are both carpenters, spend at least 12 hours each day making and installing items for the Soldiers.
“We have made memorials, cabinets, desks and adjustable shelves,” Frnka said. “We do it all.”
With Frnka’s deep passion to help the military, he decided to leave his own business in Texas and deploy to Iraq.
“I have been a carpenter for 37 years,” he said as he installed cabinets in the operations center. “But I wanted to do something else to help.”
Frnka even asks his friends in the United States to help him out sometimes.
“I had one of my friends send me a bunch of stuff that I wasn’t able to get here,” he said of the supplies he uses to build things. “I have also taught the guys who work for me how to build things by hand.”
Frnka and his team’s work can be seen throughout the center.
“Randy and his crew have been tasked to do various projects for the brigade,” said Sgt. Maj. Johnny Kea, a brigade future operations sergeant major and native of Rose Hill, N.C. “He has received excellent reviews on the quality of the products … His great skills supports the Soldiers in Iraq.
Frnka also makes it a priority to complete all tasks given to him. If there is something that needs to be fixed then he will make sure he does it.
“Randy has seen all projects form start to finish,” Kea said. “He takes great pride in his work and supporting the Soldiers.
Although Frnka has been a carpenter for 37 years, his team is new to the trade. However, Frnka takes time out to train them.
“These guys are like my sons,” Frnka said of Salvador and Remocaldo. “I taught them everything they know.”
The team is also responsible for projects around the Camp Striker, Iraq area. They have built all the cabinets for the Sather Air Base, Iraq dining facility. And they do specialty work as well.
“The unique thing is that I do not use tools to measure things,” Frnka said and he showed Soldiers some of his products. “I use my eyes to calibrate things.”
Frnka’s calibrated eye gets the job done according to the Soldiers who have seen his work.
“The projects the civilians have done in the (operational center) look really nice,” commented Sgt. Anthony Fusco, the 2nd BCT engineer noncommissioned officer in charge and native of Avon, N.Y. “They are friendly and will help in any way they can.”
Frnka’s team plans on continuing supporting the Soldiers as much as they can.
“I am glad I can help and I like to,” added Remocaldo. “Helping the Soldiers makes me happy.”

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