Sometimes your job requires you to sit at a computer and crunch numbers or write proposals. Sometimes your job requires you to head into the forests of third-world countries and build life-changing infrastructure.
That’s what Dan Klingshirn was doing before joining the Charleston District to work as a project manager on construction projects at Joint Base Charleston.
After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, Klingshirn took a job with NAVFAC in Honolulu doing humanitarian assistance under the Theater Security Cooperation Program.
“It’s a big Department of Defense program that not many people know about,” said Klingshirn. “We work with U.S. Embassies all over the world who have the idea that if they help foreign countries build infrastructure, then peace, stability, and prosperity will follow.”
The infrastructure Klingshirn worked on included schools, clinics and roads in Southeast Asia. He also worked on building barracks for the United Nations’ peacekeeping program. These projects enabled these areas to grow and survive on their own.
“The most rewarding thing was when you went to a project site in the middle of nowhere in Asia and they are so poor but so excited because you are delivering something to them that’s going to change their lives,” said Klingshirn.
After five years of travelling back and forth from Hawaii to Asia, Klingshirn and his family moved to Naples, Italy, for a new job under NAVFAC serving as a project manager to build more humanitarian assistance and counter-narcotics projects. His new territory was an underdeveloped, yet beautiful, area of East Africa, which included Uganda, Tanzania and the island nation of Seychelles.
Here, Klingshirn did much of the same type of work, but there was one example that he will always remember. It was the renovation of a 40,000 square foot building for the Tanzanian military officials that had been slated for a two story building years before.
“Halfway through construction, their government wanted it changed to a three story building,” said Klingshirn. “They did that, but then ran out of money for walls, electrical work and everything else necessary, so it was unusable. It was a shell of a building.”
Kingshirn’s team went in and finished the building. These jobs are part of the goal of building facilities and hosting training so that, after construction of facilities, the U.N. and neighboring countries can handle security missions in the area on their own.
While much of the work was generally the same between Asia and Africa, there was one notable difference. In Asia, NAVFAC had an established contractor base that was familiar with the U.S. government’s policies and were fairly self-sufficient. In Africa, not so much.
“The contractors in Africa hadn’t worked with the U.S. government before and weren’t used to our level of calculations and engineering,” said Klingshirn. “They always just went out and built a project. We had to start doing pre-bid and pre-construction site visits with them so that they would understand our requirements.”
Now Klingshirn is in Charleston, where he passed up his rights to return to Hawaii to be near family instead. He’ll be working on projects at Joint Base Charleston, including a water intrusion repair project to keep the naval hospital running while ripping out leaking walls and keeping new water out.
Klingshirn brings a world of experience (literally) to the Charleston District and joins a team ready to serve our customers.
You can contact Klingshirn at Daniel.J.Klingshirn@usace.army.mil.