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Airmen take point in effort to improve dorms

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea Jan. 11, 2007 -- Airman 1st Class Tara Trudell,  8th Security Forces Squadron armorer, has volunteered more than 42 hours towards painting murals in Dorm 1303. Residents of the dorm were the latest recipients of the 8th Fighter Wing's "Dorm of the Month" for best dorm on base, earning the 8th SFS $1,000 in quality of life funding. Airmen recently overhauled the aging dormitory as part of a major self-help overhaul.

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea Jan. 11, 2007 -- Airman 1st Class Tara Trudell, 8th Security Forces Squadron armorer, has volunteered more than 42 hours towards painting murals in Dorm 1303. Residents of the dorm were the latest recipients of the 8th Fighter Wing's "Dorm of the Month" for best dorm on base, earning the 8th SFS $1,000 in quality of life funding. Airmen recently overhauled the aging dormitory as part of a major self-help overhaul.

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea Jan. 11, 2007 -- Airman 1st Class Trudell paints a mural in the first floor day room of Building 1303 for the Avengers Flight. The mural is only one effort, led by the Airmen of the squadron, to improve the quality of their dorms.

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea Jan. 11, 2007 -- Airman 1st Class Trudell paints a mural in the first floor day room of Building 1303 for the Avengers Flight. The mural is only one effort, led by the Airmen of the squadron, to improve the quality of their dorms.

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Some of the dorms here are old and decrepit. Some of the Airmen here are doing something about it.

Initiative is contagious; anyone can look at the Airmen of the 8th Security Forces Squadron to see that. In August, approximately 20 Airmen, along with their dorm manager, Staff Sgt. Mike Whitman, decided they were going to remodel their dorm - security forces style. Six months later, nearly every Airman living in Dorm 1303, and many in the squadron's leadership, helped to improve it.

"The tough part is getting started, but once you get it rolling others will start seeing the improvements and roll up their sleeves and join in as well," said Master Sgt. Michael Hayward, 8th SFS first sergeant.

"In August during (Col. Mona Lisa "Falcon" Tucker, 8th Mission Support Group commander's), dorm walk through, 1303 was the worst dorm on base and not by a little," he said. "That's when our Airmen, dorm manager and the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron buckled down, teamed up and got to work."

They continue to work on the dorms to this day. So far the Airmen have two-tone painted the three floors they live on, replaced ceiling tiles and stained carpets in the entry ways and dayrooms, painted murals in the dayrooms and civil engineering purchased new throw rugs, furniture and a television.

"(In November, Col. Jeff "Wolf" Lofgren, 8th Fighter Wing commander,) named it dorm of the month," he said. "It's still one of the oldest dorms on base, but it's at least clean and, more importantly, the Airmen have taken pride in it, started policing each other and make sure the new Airmen know to take care of it. Morale is up and I believe that will continue on to the next class."

Money can always be an issue, especially when dorm residents ask for new furniture or supplies for self-help projects. That's one reason the housing office, with support from the first sergeants' council, has reinstated the "Dorm of the Month" program. The program, geared to motivate residents to take pride in their living areas, rewards the most effective with $1,000 toward quality of life improvements for their dorms.

According to Master Sgt. Brooke Cushing, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Housing Flight superintendent, each group submits one dorm and an inspector. At the end of the month each inspector, along with the command chief, walk through them, grading each accordingly.

The dorm council from the winning dorm receives $1,000 to purchase anything from furniture to paint for their dorm.

But even with their winnings, the security forces Airmen still went above and beyond to fix their dorm.

"We purchased ping pong and air hockey tables with the money we won," said Sgt. Hayward. "Money is always the biggest issue, so we also dug into our own pockets and used money from the Security Forces Booster Club to help purchase needed supplies."

Although the security forces dorm may still be old, its a lot better now than it was in August, and the residents continue to improve it so they can once again win another $1,000.