Tustin soldiers: 14 summers hammerin’ for a cause

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JASON THOMSON OF Tustin Ranch Corps repairs electrical wiring in the main chapel.

It’s been 14 years since Merle Davenport and Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef (who was then the divisional commander of the Alaska Division) first sat down and formulated a plan to bring workers from California to do much needed repairs on the corps buildings and quarters in Alaska.

Since that time the Tustin Ranch Corps work teams have donated approximately 8,000 hours of work to the Alaska Division. Each year a team of six to eight men has traveled to Alaska for two weeks and with the financial support of the soldiers and friends of Tustin Ranch all their travel expenses have been covered.

This year the work team traveled to the Mat-Su Valley Corps in Palmer where they worked on the corps building and the officer’s quarters.

At the quarters they installed new kitchen cabinets, refinished the wood trim in the kitchen and bathroom, installed new shower enclosures, dry-walled the laundry room, repaired the front door and outside siding and repainted six rooms.

At the corps they installed a new drop ceiling in the kitchen, upgraded the entire electrical system, installed rain gutters and built storage shelves for the food pantry.

“Our men work hard, usually six days a week, and then we love to take part in the Sunday services,” said Dick Davenport, the team leader for the last 12 years. “We believe that God has called us to give of our time, talent and treasure. This is our way of serving him with the gifts he has given us.”

The trip wasn’t “all work,” though, as the team always finds time (after work hours) to get in a little fishing and sight seeing. One side trip this year was a visit to an old gold mine, parts of which are still operating. The team had their pictures taken with a 12-foot Kodiak stuffed bear which belongs to the son of Janet Kincaid, Mat-Su Valley Advisory Board member and host to the work team at her bed and breakfast.

During a recent visit to the Tustin Ranch Corps, Captain Robert Rudd, current divisional commander of Alaska, presented the team with a reproduction of a gold mining pan and stated that we should rename the group from a “construction team” to a “service team.”

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