May 24, 2016 –
EXETER, California – In the Kaweah Oaks Preserve located in Exeter, California, Monday, May 24, a Soldier training with the 672nd Engineer Company stands near his Humvee. He’s about six feet tall, and he’s dressed with a brown undershirt, a hardhat and safety goggles.
He’s actually a native of Jamaica, and also a former soldier in the Jamaican Army. His name is Pvt. Rhoen Barnes from 801st Engineer Company. He's also a 91B, which is a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the Army.
“It’s different. Jamaican Army helps the local police, and they salute and march a little differently, but the training is almost the same,” said Barnes, talking about transitioning from the Jamaican Army to U.S. Army. “I would get in trouble with the drill sergeants in basic training because I would march or salute the Jamaican way.”
Barnes is assisting and training with the 672nd Engineer Company during the construction of the restroom at Kaweah Oaks Preserve for the Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT). The construction of the restroom is part of the Innovative Readiness Training, a program that links up Army Reserve units with qualified civilian-based projects.
Barnes said he helped set up the fence around the perimeter, and pour cement on the concrete blocks of the restroom they’re constructing. He also received hands on training moving blocks with the skid-steer loader.
“I think he’s doing a really good job. I don’t know how the Jamaican Army works, but he’s out there doing skid-steer training. He had never done it before,” said Spc. Alexa Thompson, who is also training with the 672nd during annual training. “The skid-steer kind of looks like a tractor. We all had a chance to practice driving it.”
Barnes said he lives with his wife and two stepdaughters in Vallejo, California. He also has a son and a daughter. His kids are in Jamaica, but they’re coming next month.
“My kids are happy I joined the Army. My son, he wants to be in the Army. My wife at first didn’t like the idea, but than she said ok,” said Barnes.
He helped out the 672nd construct the restroom for the SRT, but he also has been doing his military occupation as a mechanic.
“I drive the contact truck. It’s this,” Barnes said pointing at the Humvee in front of him. “It has a lot of tools that I use to help service the other trucks like the skit-steer.” He had an air filter in his hand and he was cleaning it with an air hose connected to his contact truck.
When asked why he joined the U.S. Army, he said that he just likes the Army. Before he went back to working on his contact truck, he added that he wouldn’t mind coming back to help with the construction of other facilities for SRT.