Airman’s American Dream is military success story

  • Published
  • By Maj. Roxy Hambleton
  • 482nd Force Support Squadron

Nothing happens to the infrastructure at Homestead Air Reserve Base without the work, insight, and coordination of the engineers from the 482nd Mission Support Group’s Civil Engineer Squadron.

From roads to buildings, when something needs to be constructed on an Air Force installation, it needs to be done with skill and precision. Responsible for planning and managing construction projects, engineers ensure that every base has the facilities and structures it needs to keep operating successfully.

HARB is constructing a state-of-the-art entry control complex projected to be operational in late 2019. Base civil engineer personnel have worked with Air Force Reserve Command headquarters, the Army Corps of Engineers, and several local government agencies during this $11 million dollar military construction project since its inception which involved annexing county land adjacent to the current front gate. 

The ECC will enable the base to comply with more stringent force protection standards that better protect personnel and the mission they perform. Unfortunately, the ECC project had been delayed for several reasons, but much of it was due to the slow pace of multiple government organizations working together.  Because military construction funds expire after a given time period, HARB was approaching a critical point on the schedule that was increasing risk to this project. 

At this critical junction, in steps Staff Sgt. Luiz Vicentini, an engineering technician with the 482nd CES, and an architect and project engineer in his civilian career. Vicentini was able to use his experience for the City of Miami to guide the ACE and their subcontractors through the intricate steps of the permit submittal and approval process. He was also able to preview documentation provided to county engineers and managers to ensure the greatest chance of success in the shortest possible time.

“Without his involvement, quick identification of potential issues, and ability to offer and implement solutions, the cost and schedule for this critical project would have been impacted,” Lt. Col. Scott McPherson, the 482nd FW BCE and CES commander said. “We certainly are glad to have him on our team!”

Born and raised in Parana State, Brazil, Vicentini moved to the United States at the age of 23 to begin work on his master’s degree. Concurrently with his graduate studies, Vicentini worked in a restaurant as a server, was married and raising a family, and also freelanced as a drafter for various companies in the local area.

“Those were hard times, but you have to work hard to get ahead,” said Vicentini, who was granted U.S. citizenship seven years later.

In 2009, Vicentini decided to join the military because he wanted to give back to the country that provided him so many opportunities. He saw an article on the Air National Guard and realized he could work at his civilian job and still be in the military. He joined the Otis ANG in Cape Cod, Mass., as a knowledge operations management Airman. He then asked to transfer to the CES, received his training as an engineering technician, and joined the squadron as an Active Guard Reservist. In that position, he served as the contracting officer representative as well as the construction manager for the approximately 300-acre military installation.

A job opportunity in 2014 brought the Vicentini family to Florida. The job, as a city planner for the City of Miami, entails reviewing plans, rezoning, issuing warrants for projects, and more. He also approves amendments and conducts briefings for Planning Zoning Appeals Boards.

When Vicentini moved to Miami, he called the local recruiter who connected him with the 482nd CES superintendent. Within four months he was transferred to the 482nd CES.

Yet Vicentini was setting his sights ever higher.

“It has been a dream of mine to be an officer in the Air Force,” said Vicentini. “It would be the epitome of my military career to be able to use the skills I have in an engineering capacity for the 482nd.”

With his architecture degree in hand, Vicentini took the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and applied through the Deserving Airman Commissioning Program for a position as an engineer with the CES. McPherson, who had been working with Vicentini on the ECC, highly recommended him for commissioning.

Vicentini is awaiting an Officer Training School date from Air Force Personnel Center and after commissioning will return to the squadron as a second lieutenant and engineer.

“Staff Sgt. Vicentini’s story encompasses both the American Dream and a military success story,” said Col. David Biggs, the 482nd Mission Support Group commander. “He worked hard and rose through the ranks both professionally and militarily. We certainly appreciate his work on the ECC and look forward to his contributions as an engineer and officer in the group and in the wing.”