IN THE MILITARY
GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STAR-BULLETIN.COM
Dione DuBoyd helps erect the aluminum frames of one of 42 structures being built at Schofield Barracks’ Area X. The structures will house soldiers like members of Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team, which is expected home in January after spending nearly a year in Iraq.
Synthetic digs sprout at Schofield
Hawaii Guardsmen returning from Iraq will stay temporarily in sophisticated tents
THIS IS NOT your grandfather's pup tent.
It's a Sprung structure complete with air conditioning, refrigerators, desks, wall lockers and bunk beds.
The fiberglass tents are being erected at Area X at Schofield Barracks, awaiting the return in January of Hawaii's 29th Brigade Combat Team.
The National Guardsmen will spend two weeks there preparing to return to civilian life.
About 700 soldiers from the Hawaii Army National Guard unit who live on Oahu will be allowed to go home at the end of each day. But another 1,200 from the neighbor islands, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan will need Army quarters.
Lt. Col. Jay Hammer, executive officer for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, has a soft spot for the Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers since he once served in its 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry, scout platoon on the Big Island in the late 1980s.
"I am a soldier," said Hammer recently as he surveyed construction of the 16-by-32-foot Sprung structures. "I would stay in them in a minute."
Phil Sprung, whose Salt Lake City company distributes these semi-permanent structures, doesn't like to use the "T" word (tent) to describe them.
After all, for the past four generations his family has built different shelters dating back to 1887, when his great grandfather made a prairie schooner.
"Our buildings are built around an aluminum shell system," said Sprung, who was here last week to inspect the Schofield Barracks job.
He said that a six-inch fiberglass membrane is used as insulation separating the outer fireproof vinyl shield. Each unit will house eight to 10 soldiers.
"The finished product is an engineered building," said Sprung, who heads Sprung Instant Structures Inc. "They are permanent. They can withstand 96-mph winds."
He noted that Hurricane Wilma's 110-mph winds "didn't even suffer a rip in their membrane."
Since Sprung began marketing the structures in 1960, they have been used as school gymnasiums, churches and exhibition shelters.
In Hawaii, Sprung has built a golf cart storage facility at the Turtle Bay Resort and air cargo structures at Honolulu Airport.
Hammer said the Army's 42 structures will cost $4 million and will be completed by December.
The Army also will be upgrading 18 existing wooden huts that are anywhere from 4- to 6-years-old and will ensure that they will have comparable air conditioning, bedding and other amenities. There also will be 1,400 feet of covered concrete walkway.
Two island contractors, Nan Inc. and LYZ Inc., are part of the project.
Besides the housing units, Hammer said, the Army plans to build weight and television rooms for the soldiers as well provide washers and dryers. A small post exchange and other morale-boosting facilities also will be located nearby.
The entire area will be used to support any mobilization or post mobilization requirements that active duty, National Guard and Army Reserve units may face in the future.
"These units also are movable," Hammer added.