Fighting tropical downpours, wet-blanket-humidity and surrounded by sticky mud pits Air National Guard troops based in East Tennessee forged through the elements to complete a mission of service to families in need on the Pacific island of Guam.

“It gives them a chance to do something for the community for those less fortunate and I think it gives them a reason to be here,” said SMSgt Ed Owenby of the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard.

More than 7,500 miles from their Tennessee homes more than 30 troops spent almost 10 days this summer building two Habitat for Humanity homes.

“It’s been a constant work ethic and we love the drive, the ambition, the willingness to get out there, do it and just get the job done,” said Habitat for Humanity of Guam Executive Director Alicia Aguon. She is overseeing the build by Tennessee troops and other military units rotating in to work on both houses.

For the citizen airmen of the 134th ARW, the projects also present an opportunity for them to sharpen skills they use in their “day jobs” as plumbers, electricians, and construction managers.

“When you get to the job and figure out that things aren’t going to line up exactly the way you want them to, you have to improvise,” said Airman 1st Class Robert Behan.

The Tennessee troops didn’t get to hand over the keys to the new home owners, but they returned to their own homes knowing their hard work will pay off for people in need.