Balikatan teams 130th Eng. Bde. with Filipino troops

| April 14, 2011 | 0 Comments
Capt. James Ham (right), emergency physician, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, gets a patient to “open wide” during a medical civic assistance project held at the Pundakit Elementary School, March 31, during Balikatan 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney | U.S. Navy)

Capt. James Ham (right), emergency physician, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, gets a patient to “open wide” during a medical civic assistance project held at the Pundakit Elementary School, March 31, during Balikatan 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney | U.S. Navy)

Lance Cpl. Abigail Brown
Army News Services

 

ZAMBALES PROVINCE, Philippines — Soldiers from the 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, are teaming up with Republic of the Philippines soldiers to add new classrooms to five elementary schools, here, during the annual Balikatan exercises, here, April 5-15.

Philippine and U.S. service members will conduct humanitarian assistance projects in communities; military medical personnel will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care; and military engineers will construct and repair schools and other infrastructure in communities in need of assistance.

“We had no problems coming together with the other engineers, and it’s been fantastic to learn some of their ways to build with different tools than we use,” said Spc. Dean McLaughlin, carpentry and masonry engineer, 2nd Platoon, 643rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

Service members from both countries have been put into teams at each construction site, so they can see how each other operates as the projects have proceeded, McLaughlin added.

“We have been able to learn some different techniques to construct stucco and masonry,” said 2nd Lt Arthur Gabasa, 355th Aviation Wing, Philippine Air Force.

“We will be learning how to use the tools the U.S. Soldiers brought with them, since it will make the project easier,” said 1st Lt. Reynald Monredondo, from the Philippines’ 54th Eng. Bde.

Projects like Taposo Elementary School, offer a cross-training experience between the two militaries that will enhance future construction projects.

“We haven’t done a lot of construction with concrete, so this is a great opportunity for us to learn the techniques of the Philippine Army,” said 1st. Lt Brandy Kinstle, 3rd Platoon, 643rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

While Filipino service members show their U.S. counterparts how they use concrete in their construction, Americans will give them instruction on how to use U.S. equipment, Kinstle said.

For the 130th Eng. Bde., it’s also an opportunity to learn about another culture.

“We are so thankful to the local government for allowing us to be part of the community and work alongside other engineers,” McLaughlin said. “This is an amazing opportunity that not many people will get a chance to experience.”

During a groundbreaking ceremony at Angel C. Manglicmot Memorial School, recently, students, families and service members watched and interacted with each other. Local families offered fresh fruit and children smiled as American and Filipino service members handed out basketballs. Handshakes and waves were exchanged, as locals and Soldiers thanked each other for their hospitality, McLaughlin said.

“We have been having friendship basketball games with the community, so we can become closer to the people,” Gabasa added.

“The community is very cooperative and happy,” said Maribel Edangal, principal, Topes Elementary. “We’re very excited to see what the armies do, since they are working so fast together.”

The 2011 Balikatan exercise is the 27th in a series of combined, joint efforts between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines of both the Philippines and U.S.

The goal of these exercises is to maintain military readiness through training and relationship-building to better prepare for humanitarian relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety.

“We will build a good friendship while building together,” said Pvt. Juncky Hidalgo, from the Philippine Army’s 24th Infantry Bn., 7th Inf. Division.

 

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Category: Army News Service, Deployed Forces, Exercises, News

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