Members from the 18th Civil Engineering Squadron tear apart the window frame of a Quonset hut on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 8, 2012. The 18th CES partnered with the 18th Wing History office to restore the building as a project to help preserve the last building of its kind on Kadena. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Almaraz, 18th Civil Engineering Squadron structural journeyman, removes rusted nails from an old window on a Quonset hut on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 8, 2012. The 18th CES partnered with the 18th Wing History office to restore the building as a project to help preserve the last building of its kind on Kadena. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)
Building 16, also known as a Quonset hut, was built in 1946 and was moved to its current site in 1986, next to the 18th Wing headquarters building on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 8, 2012. Quonset huts were a renovation of a World War I design from the British and were introduced in the 1940’s. The 18th Civil Engineering Squadron partnered with the 18th Wing History office to restore the building as a project to help preserve the last Quonset hut on Kadena. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)
by Airman 1st Class Hailey Davis
18th Wing Public Affairs
8/22/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A semi-circular building with a rusted steel roof sits surrounded by dense Okinawan jungle across the street from the 18th Wing headquarters building. Japanese and American World War II artifacts from around Okinawa, either found in caves or donated by base units, used to inhabit the structure.
Through foggy rectangular panels of windows of Bldg. 16, also known as a Quonset hut has two on either side. A cannon and an unexploded bomb can be seen, covered in cobwebs, through the battered windows.
This Quonset hut, the last of its kind on Kadena, was once a museum. In 1993 the artifacts from the museum were moved to Camp Kinser and are now on display at the Battle of Okinawa Museum, said Casey Connell, 18th Wing historian.
The building was built on Kadena Air Base in 1946, but was moved to its current location in 1986. It is also the only building of its kind still standing on base. Quonset huts were used on Kadena for work offices, chapels and medical facilities, as well as base housing.
"At first (renovating the building) was just a regular project," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Gargus, 18th Civil Engineering Squadron structural craftsman. "But when we came out and looked at (the building) and we started talking to Casey about actually restoring it, I, of course, jumped on it."
"I love restoring old buildings. On top of that its part of the base's heritage," he said as he continued to work on rebuilding a frame for the new windows that would replace the battered framework later on.
The 18th Wing History Office partnered with the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron, and took on the project of renovating this historical site in March 2012 but, but the real work started in early August.
Members of the 18th CES estimate the renovation taking three weeks to complete and the scorching sub-tropical sun doesn't seem to let up just because Airmen are working tirelessly to see a piece of history restored. As days go by, Airmen under the supervision of Gargus, removed rotting planks of wood and windows to rebuild the window frame in preparation of new glass.
Gargus said the passion for the job, the passion for the project and the knowledge of both are a few criteria one should have in order to put a project like this together.
Not only does restoring the Quonset hut preserve a part of Kadena's history, but with the materials they were using, the building would stand for at least another 50 years, said Gargus.
Over the next three weeks, Gargus and his team plan to have the windows rebuilt. Once the windows are redone, the structural team will work with the environmental section in order to repaint the building. He hopes that they will also be able to replace the doors and turn the building into a museum once again.
"That's what I would like to see happen," said Gargus. "If it takes me doing some volunteer work to come in here on the weekends to make sure that happens, I will do it."
8/22/2012 11:08:42 PM ET Way to go boys Making the 18 CES AND Structure Shop look good. Well said words by both the author and foreman lead. Keep up the good work