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Multi-national project builds school

By Lance Cpl. Courtney G. White | | February 14, 2012

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Service members from four participating countries in Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 attended the dedication ceremony for the newly constructed early childhood development center building here Feb. 14.

The center was constructed by the Republic of Korea Marines, U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, the Royal Thai Navy and the Republic of Indonesian Army as one of six engineering civic action program projects during Exercise Cobra Gold 2012.

The service members constructed masonry as well as completed an irrigation ditch around the school to avoid flooding during heavy rainfall.

“The forces worked together really well,” said Lt. Ruth Kelty, the site officer in charge for MWSS-172. “The project was completed with ease despite the language barrier because all of the service members have similar backgrounds and training.”

All the participating service members stayed on-site and even hung out during their off-hours time said Kelty.

“The language barrier was difficult at first but after a while we were able to find a common ground by using a form of sign language,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Derrick D. Daley, a combat engineer with MWSS-172. “It was great that we could all get on the same page to be able to provide the school with another building for use.”

Working together with other nations allows you to learn their skills, said Lance Cpl. Chang H. Lee, a mine detector specialist with the Republic of Korea Marines.

“We were also able to learn how to use equipment that we’ve never used before,” said Lee. “We also got to take from their experience and training to better ourselves.”

The service members worked on site for a month and were guided by Mr. Thongchai Wanicharat, the school principal, who explained what work had to be done. Parents of students from the local community also participated during the construction.

“The project was definitely an unforgettable experience” said Lee. “In such a short period of time, we were able to experience so many different types of culture, a chance many will never get to experience. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity.”

Cobra Gold is an annual Royal Thai and U.S. co-hosted multinational exercise designed to advance security throughout the Asia-Pacific region and enhance interoperability with participating nations.


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