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Electrician from America’s Heartland builds schools in Belize

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
He grew up in the small town in America's Heartland, graduated high school and then decided to join the Air Force to "serve his country."

Fast-forward to five years later and he's on a U.S. Southern Command deployment building a preschool for local children.

U.S. Staff Sgt. Kyle Rankin, a native of McCook, Nebraska, is deployed from the 820th RED HORSE Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in support of a New Horizons mission in Belize.

His mother, Opal Feeney, Maxwell, Nebraska, and his father, Dean Rankin, Wichita, Kansas, couldn't be prouder of their son.

"I was pretty much the first member of my family to enlist in the military," he said. "My parents are very supportive and think that I made a great decision in joining."

Rankin is now on his second deployment, operating as the lead electrician on the Hattieville Government School construction site.

His first deployment was to Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, where he was assisted with building tents, building structures for the Army, and changing power sources from generators to power lines.

During his current deployment, he is working with a group of military civil engineers from both the U.S. and Belize to construct a hospital ward in Belmopan, three school additions in Belize City, and one school in addition Hattieville.

A key benefit to the exercise is that U.S. service members receive an opportunity to learn from and build partnerships with the exercise participants from the host nation's government and military forces.

During this deployment he is getting first-hand training from members of the Belize Defence Force Light Engineer Company.

"We have a lot of different ways of doing things," Rankin said. "Here we are taking the way that other people do things into consideration and really broadening our skillsets; such as parging, mixing concrete and preparing mortar."

He says that he "enjoys being in the country and is happy to be building a nice preschool for the children."

But, his wife, Shandell, and his children Noah and Brooklyn are never far from his mind.

He says that his wife "likes to be independent and she does a great job at taking care of the kids" and transitioning them through the pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment stages.

"She is simply amazing," Rankin said.

Rankin will be returning to his family at the end of June.