One year ago, 20 Airmen with the 137th Special Operations Wing deployed in support of Operation Allies Welcome. This team included Maj. Neil Chaves, who was assigned as the Task Force Liberty civil engineer team commander at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The initial CE team of about 10 people was first tasked to set up housing for those evacuating from Afghanistan. The initial village included around 4,000 Afghan guests.

The CE Airmen were responsible for everything including installing fencing and barriers for security perimeters, working plumbing around the clock, ordering materials, biohazard waste disposal, conducting surveys and putting together proposals and designs for construction projects.

The volume and demand of the work could be a struggle for Airmen, so Chaves worked to establish a team that could support all the necessary CE functions of facilities as well as develop processes that could improve morale and quality of life for the Airmen and Afghan guests by bringing the communities together.