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U.S. Navy Seabees, Thai Army build bonds, new school building during Cobra Gold 2011

By Lance Cpl. Kris B. Daberkoe | | January 28, 2011

Navy Seabees and Thai Army engineers are constructing a new school building at Pa Ka Mai School to improve the quality of life of the residents in the area Jan. 18 through Feb. 20, 2011, as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2011.

The schoolhouse construction is part of a series of humanitarian civic assistance projects that include medical, dental, veterinary and engineering projects in remote locations throughout the kingdom. Thailand, Indonesia and U.S. service members are working on these projects to help strengthen the bonds between local Thai communities and the Thai, Indonesian and U.S. armed forces.

"It's a great honor to be ... working with the American and Thai militaries," said Sgt. Maj. Haskani, the lead engineer with the Indonesian Marine Corps engineer detachment, working on another engineering project supporting Cobra Gold 2011.

At Pa Ka Mai School, the 7 by 20 meter schoolhouse the service members are building will provide 105 students with an environment suited for learning.

"A lot of times, these children don't have a place to sit down at a desk and learn, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Guillermety, a Barran Quilla, Colombia, native and crew leader with Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 11, 1st Naval Construction Division, U.S. Naval Construction Force, based in Gulfport, Miss. "Being able to build for them a better means to receive an education is for me the best part of my military career."

Working together to build a new schoolhouse also gives the service members from different nations the opportunity to learn from each other's experience, said some service members at the construction site.

"A lot of communication is needed for a project like this," sad Thai Sgt. Singthong Kondee, from Pisanulou, Thailand, and a crew leader with Mobile Unit 34, Regional Development Office 3 Unit Commander, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.

"The difference in our construction methods becomes apparent as we progress through the project," Kondee said.

The dedication ceremony for the new schoolhouse is scheduled to take place Feb. 21, 2011, at the school.

The project is one of eight engineering projects taking place during Cobra Gold 2011.

For more information about Cobra Gold 2011, visit the website www.marines.mil/cobragold2011 or the Facebook page www.facebook/exercisecobragold.

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