Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Bye has been shaping Camp Guernsey’s aesthetics and capabilities for 33 years, and is still working with Army engineers to continue improving the military training center.
Bye joined the Wyoming Army National Guard’s 197th Engineers Detachment in 1982, after graduating from high school in Guernsey. The unit disbanded around the turn of the century, but Bye stayed in Guernsey, joining the Training Site Command, where he still works today as an engineering technician, in addition to his full-time job there as project manager with the Wyoming Military Department’s Construction and Facilities Management Office.
“There aren’t many of us from the 197th in the military still,” Bye said. “When I came in (retired brigadier general) Tammy Maas was a specialist and (retired lieutenant colonel) Deanne Vogel was a LT. That was a fun unit. We were called ‘The Animals.’ We worked hard and we played hard. We went a lot of places too. My Overseas Training Ribbon had a seven on it.”
He came in as a draftsman, but said that was kind of “boring,” so he went to Casper College on the G.I. Bill, earned a construction degree and became a carpenter/mason in the 197th.
“They looked like they were having a lot more fun,” he said. “The 197th’s role was to support Camp Guernsey, so when we disbanded, I moved over to training site as a mechanic. The engineer section was really small.”
He has always had a knack for getting things built and improved around the camp using troop labor, rather than expensive contractors. A few of his most noticeable projects include the Chapel/Multi-Purpose Center and the wall around the flag pole, both built by the 197th in the late ‘90s.
Under Bye’s watch, Army National Guard engineers from Wyoming’s 133rd Engineer Company, as well as engineer units from other states have left their mark on the training center for decades. For example, the South Dakota Army National Guard has conducted its major, multi-state, annual training event, Golden Coyote, at Camp Guernsey for almost 30 years, Bye said.
“Their engineers are always looking for projects to do. We see the need and they need the training, so it works out really well and saves a lot of tax dollars,” Bye said. “What’s cool is we enable training for them, and they enable training for the units who utilize those facilities and improvements. It’s double pay and it really fits Camp Guernsey’s mission to enable training.”
With the constraint of a two-week annual training period for National Guard soldiers, many projects have been ongoing for years. Contributions from various units are added to the cumulative process. The Combat Entry Control Point at the Improvised Explosive Device Village is a good case in point. Or the unmanned aerial vehicle landing strip, or Range Guard 4 improvements and construction of main supply routes and alternate supply routes to Army standard.
“All these projects are bigger than two weeks,” Bye said. “So other units will pick up where others leave off. It just kind of flows.”
As well, engineers pitch in on facilities maintenance such as plumbing, carpentry and HVAC.
“A lot of our work here is keeping things up and running so we can enable training,” the chief said. “There’s a lot to be aware of too. Historical, cultural and environmental considerations are all of high importance.”
Col. Joe Huss, camp commander, said Bye’s mark on the camp can’t be discounted. “Chief Bye is an extreme professional. He ensures Camp Guernsey is at its best for our training units, both for engineering units and other military and agency training.”
Bye points out various stamps left in concrete by his and other engineer units throughout the years and throughout the garrison. Everything from sidewalks to picnic areas, have distinct brands left by the craftsmen.
“It gives them a sense of pride to have built something here and to leave their mark,” Bye said.
The profession has even left a mark on him. “The engineer’s motto is ESSAYONS. It’s French for “Let us try,” he said. “I’ve got it tattooed on my shoulder. I try to live it and the spirit of it.”