Natl. Guard Squadron Reinforces Tabor Dam - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Natl. Guard Squadron Reinforces Tabor Dam

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ST. IGNATIUS -

A Montana Air National Guards squadron is finishing up work on the century-old, earthen Tabor Dam surrounding St. Mary's Lake near St. Ignatius, which is slowly leaking water.

The six-week project is part of the airmen and women's "innovative readiness training," which prepares them to complete similar projects during their wartime missions.

Members of the 219th REDHORSE squadron are tasked with increasing the Tabor Dam's surface by two feet, and ensuring its compactness is at least 95%. Master Sergeant Michael Thomas said the airmen and women have already added 20,000 cubic yards of dirt to the north side of the mile-long dam.

"This is real world, and everybody is loving it," said Sgt. Thomas.

Sgt. Thomas has been deployed three times, and he said this kind of service project gives the squadron crucial experience and technical practice for their future military duties.

"When we go to war, that they already know what they're doing, and so we can knock that project out, and get out of harm's way," he said.

Thomas said the National Guard is working with members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the project, who supply the equipment and fuel.

"They've actually asked us to come back next year to do the south dam, so we're in the works trying to come back next year just to keep the relationship going," he said.

Senior Airmen Jennifer Cowhick operates the bulldozer with ease, moving dirt from the supply pile to the dump trucks that haul it to the dam.

"I love it, I can't imagine doing anything else, it's fun being so small getting in there and pushing around whatever you can," Senior Airmen Cowhick said.

Cowhick is one of only two women on the 26-person crew. By the end of the project, which is slated for next week, Sgt. Thomas said the airmen and women will have put in 3,400 man hours.

"I think it's going to give me a lot of practice and, you know, experience with it, so I'll be able to get a job on the outside world pretty easy with doing something like this," Cowhick said.

Members of the National Guard taking part in the Tabor Dam project work in a variety of different trades, but all are trained to use the heavy construction equipment.

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