Story and Photo by
1st Lt. Laura Beth Beebe
643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
PAKTONGCHAI, Thailand — An 8th Theater Sustainment Command unit has built a school, here, in support of Cobra Gold 2012.
Cobra Gold is an annual international multilateral training event that focuses on joint peacekeeping operations.
The 25 Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, built the three-room schoolhouse as part of Cobra Gold’s humanitarian civic action mission. The Soldiers also constructed a four-stall latrine complete with a septic system.
The project was completed five days ahead of schedule and more than $10,000 under budget.
“Being able to get off the island and work on a project that utilizes all (military occupation specialties), concurrently, does not happen every day, so it is a huge opportunity for a lot of the Soldiers to showcase their capabilities and allows them the ability to immerse in training in their selected MOS,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Hodge, 643rd Eng. Co. platoon sergeant and noncommissioned officer in charge of the project.
The Ban Lum Ngoen School, here, will also benefit greatly from the building as it plans to expand the student size from 123 to 210.
“We are so thankful to have the Americans (come) to our village and help the people of Nakon Ratchasima,” said “Joe,” principal of the Ban Lum Ngoen School, during the thank-you celebration put on by the local village. “The (way) you have worked with the Thai soldiers helped to (construct) this building very fast, and it will serve the people of this country well for years to come.”
The project was invaluable training for the Soldiers, and leaders gained valuable lessons in working with other cultures.
Cobra Gold, and exercises like it, gives junior lieutenants and seasoned NCOs the experience of working alongside partner nations in a noncombat environment.