AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
More than two decades ago, 6-year-old Dave Ranlet grew up hearing stories about the United Kingdom. The experience proved to have a positive, lasting effect on him.
Today, Ranlet is a U.S. Air Force technical sergeant currently assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron here. When he found out early in his deployment that the Royal Air Force ran a British pub on base called Churchill’s Club, it peaked his curiosity.
During his first visit to the club, Ranlet met Royal Air Force Warrant Officer Chris Mears and Flight Sgt. Scott Woods, both of the RAF’s 83rd Expeditionary Air Group, who were talking to their colleagues about remodeling the establishment. This chance meeting would flourish into something greater.
“Dave for some reason or another joined in the conversation and I discussed with him how I’d like Churchill’s to have a British pub feel and he said ‘well I do wood stuff,’” said Mears.
As the conversation continued, the possibility of a partnership began to form.
“As fate would have it, I had a shirt on that said ‘I turn wood into things, what’s your super power?’” said Ranlet, who owns his own wood working business. “I pulled my shirt outward and said ‘well where could you find someone who can work with wood?,’ sort of joking and when I looked up all the RAF members had serious expressions and they looked at each other and said, ‘can you be up here tomorrow?’”
With nothing more than a conversation and a ‘handshake,’ Ranlet, Mears, and Woods began a project that would not only rejuvenate the club, but build a bond between American and British service members.
The team came up with ways to remodel for free, using recycled wood from pallets and working with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron to acquire tools. From painting and decorating to wood paneling and trim, the multinational team was able to revitalize Churchill’s club in just over two months.
“Two rotations from now no one is going to know who Warrant Officer Mears, Flight Sgt. Woods or Tech. Sgt. Ranlet are, but they will go to Churchill’s and say ‘that looks cool,’” said Ranlet. “How often do you get to work with the RAF? To say that I worked with the RAF on a project is a really proud moment for me.”
Ranlet wasn’t the only person affected by the experience. Mears said that the partnership proved valuable outside of upgrading the club.
“We demonstrated what detachment operations are all about … a cohesion and collaborative thought process,” said Ranlet. “The togetherness of different nations and people coming together to help each other out.”
Service members and civilians at Al Udeid Air Base were able to see the completed club Oct. 6, 2018.
Even though the work is over, Ranlet hasn’t stopped interacting with his RAF friends.
“I made some really great relationships that span outside the military, outside of work,” said Ranlet. “I’m already planning a vacation to the United Kingdom with my wife just to go see the friends that I’ve made here. That’s a lifelong present right there.”