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Deployed Airman works towards dream, one project at a time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs

Senior Airman Carl Vanlandingham, 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, always knew he wanted to be a carpenter and welder.

At the age of 12, Vanlandingham built his first project. After seeing how talented he was with his hands, he proceeded to experiment and built various things throughout his younger years. Ultimately, he decided to join the Air Force as a Civil Engineer where he knew he would be able to deploy and build stuff and make a difference doing what he loved.

“Ever since I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to build things. From building a dog house to now building projects for the Air Force, I’m living my dream,” said Vanlandingham.

“I made the decision at a young age that this is what I wanted to do. As a third generation Airman I had knowledge of the Air Force. I knew CE built stuff so I decided to join the military to deploy and serve my country and also be an engineer,” he said. “To be able to serve and build stuff, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Since being deployed here, Vanlandingham has worked on numerous projects. One of the bigger projects was building platforms to support air condition units. Without these platforms, the AC could risk damage. He has also built a stand for the Air Traffic Control tower.

With all the hard work and dedication put into these projects, Vanlandingham has made a large impact on the mission here.

“We get many work orders to build things around the base; I always jump at the chance to build something new. It’s always exciting to see what the next project is going to be,” he said.

During free time and days off, most Airmen prefer to catch up on sleep or relax. Vanlandingham prefers to use his free time go to work and build new projects from scratch.

“When I have downtime, I really enjoy going to my shop and working on projects. It’s really relaxing to just build stuff with my hands, that’s what I like to do,” the Airman said.

When asked how this deployment differs from his regular work as an engineer back at home, Vanlandingham shared his experience of how he finally gets to apply his home station training to real world situations.

“We trained for all this stuff back at Minot, but here I’m actually doing it. Things I’ve never done before like painting the ramps on the flight line and painting parking lanes for Blackhawks,” he said. “It’s truly an amazing experience doing the unique projects here.”

Vanlandingham said being a CE Airman will ultimately help him achieve his dream of opening his own carpenter business and building his very own home himself.

“I plan on doing a full 20 years and retiring from the Air Force, and when I do I will open my own business as a carpenter and welder. The ultimate goal that I’ve always had is to build my family a home. I even already have sketches of floor plans that I might want for my home.”

Vanlandingham continues to use his skills by helping others and to make projects that impact the Bagram mission.

“It’s really great being here and working with my fellow Airmen. We learn and build new things every day. I love being here and getting to wake up and do what I love,” said Vanlandingham.