SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. --
The year was 1983, the Air Force wore the green fatigue uniforms and the Nevada Air National Guard was in the middle of the RF-4C Phantom aircraft era. September of '83 also marks the first time the 152nd Civil Engineer Squadron partnered with the United States Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) to work on restoration and historical preservation projects at the Tallac Historical Site.
Thirty-eight years later, the year is now 2021, Airmen are wearing occupational camouflage pattern (OCP) uniforms, the Nevada Air National Guard flies C-130 Hercules aircraft and the partnership with the Forest Service and the Tahoe Heritage Foundation continues to strive.
This year, eight members of the 152nd CES spent about six days working on a reroofing project on a historical cabin that was built between 1900 and 1920 in the Pope Estates area of the site.
“Being out here [at the Tallac Historical Site] is a great opportunity for the Airmen to not only get experience and training in construction projects that they will possibly be asked to do when they are deployed, but it also allows them to be able to give back and work within the community,” said Col. Kyle Cerfoglio, 152nd Mission Support Group commander.
Community is one of five strategic priorities set by Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada’s Adjutant General.
“Talking with the residents that walk through the area, and to be able to tell them a little bit about the Nevada Air National Guard as well as the history of the site is one of the best parts of coming up here each year,” said Master Sgt. Dominic Tanzi, who’s been doing projects at the Tallac Historical Site since he joined the unit in 1998 and is also the current 152nd CES operations management noncommissioned officer in charge.
“My absolute favorite part of these projects every year has to be the camaraderie,” said Tanzi. “We’ve completed a lot of great projects and it’s been a lot of hard work but being up here with everyone is always a great time.”
The historic site wasn’t always a public space, with thousands of yearly visitors.
About a century ago, the 74-acres of waterfront land was known as the “Grandest Resort in the World” and was where three elite San Francisco Bay Area families would often retreat to in the summer. The property is made up of the Baldwin, Pope and Heller family estates. These estates are also linked to Lake Tahoe becoming the major tourist attraction that it is today. It is even said that this site had fully functioning electricity before New York City.
“This is obviously a pretty old site, so there are always projects for us to work on every year,” said Tanzi.
Tanzi foresees a long and bright future ahead for the Nevada Guard doing projects with the LTBMU. Along with the restoration projects, he also expects additional work to make the site more accessible in accordance with The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, more commonly referred to as ADA.
“The Nevada Air National Guard has a long history of providing generous support for much needed historic facility preservation at the Tallac Historic Site,” said Gwen Sanchez, acting Forest Supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service LTBMU. “We are extremely grateful for their assistance and look forward to continuing our successful partnership at this historically significant and valued location.”
The Nevada Guard’s long-lasting partnership with U.S. Forest Service doesn’t just stop at the Tallac Historical Site. During the wildfire season in the United States, the Nevada guard and three other states utilize Forest Service owned Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipment that can be rolled into the cargo area of the C-130 to help maintain control of spreading fires. This year, Nevada’s “High Rollers” led the guard’s wildfire response with dropping over 8.1 million pounds of retardant during their 89-day activation.