Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

March  2005                                Volume 44,  Issue 2

     Honor a Soldier

Woodworker Uses His Skills While Deployed in Afghanistan
by Samantha Carpenter

Capt. Craig Lapiana isn’t waiting until he retires from the National Guard to pursue his woodworking dream. Despite being stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan, Lapiana has begun purchasing woodworking tools. 

“I always have had the desire to build bird houses and for some reason, being at war has changed my perspective in that I don’t want to wait until retirement. I figured I would start purchasing tools now, little by little, until I have enough to start doing some small projects. I figure that by the time I retire I will be a master craftsman (smile) and maybe sell some of the projects I complete,” Lapiana said via e-mail.

Lapiana, who in the civilian world is a software engineer at a small pre-IPO company, recently bought woodworking equipment from Sunhill Machinery of Seattle. 

“Sunhill Machinery has been such a pleasure to deal with; they’ve been very helpful and supportive. Mr. Chen is such a great person who I have had the honor of chatting with,” Lapiana said.

Sunhill, after selling Lapiana equipment, has rallied behind him by sharing what he is doing in Afghanistan with other customers and contacts through e-newsletters.

Lapiana, who was active-duty Army for three years during the cold war and has been in the National Guard for 16 years, has been stationed in Afghanistan since February 2004. He is the commander of a National Guard unit out of Peterbourgh, N.H. 

“We are a utilities engineering detachment of 50 soldiers that are made up of plumbing, electrical, equipment and carpentry teams. We are capable of supporting a base of 10,000 people,” he said.

Lapiana’s unit has performed tasks that have included expanding a post office, improving defensive positions with barb wire, building furniture using mostly plywood and wiring panels and home runs.

“A big part of what we do is also managing humanitarian aid construction projects off-post. We hire local contractors to build and repair schools using special money put aside by the Army. This is very rewarding for our soldiers, and the people of Afghanistan get a direct benefit of a stimulated economy while the children get to go to a new and safe school,” Lapiana explained.

Back home, Lapiana has two children—Anthony and Victoria. He says that his family was proud, but scared, by his deployment. 

“There were lots of unknowns, but strength in God kept everybody focused on the difficult task at hand,” Lapiana said.

On base, Lapiana says he and his soldiers can call home every day. 

“We also have e-mail contact which has been great. I do get web cam videos of my children which have helped a lot, too,” he said.

Lapiana says that not much has changed at home since his deployment.

“When I went home on leave, not much had changed. Life just goes on and the children get better at school and sports. Life in general keeps going along,” he said.

Lapiana looks forward to his return home.

“I want to just sit, look into my wood line, get some fresh air and do nothing. I plan on taking up beekeeping and woodworking, so I will probably put some energy into these hobbies after I rest for a little bit,” Lapiana said.

Lapiana and his unit should have returned from their year-long deployment to Afghanistan at the beginning of February. He is scheduled to retire in November of this year after 20 years of service. 

Samantha Carpenter is editor of SHELTER magazine.

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