Engineer civic action team relieves Airmen on Palau Island

| March 8, 2013 | 0 Comments
1st Lt. Danielle Monroe, 643rd Eng. Co., 8th TSC, participates in the CAT turnover ceremony, Feb 15. (Photo courtesy 84th Eng. Bn., 8th TSC)

1st Lt. Danielle Monroe, 643rd Eng. Co., 8th TSC, participates in the CAT turnover ceremony, Feb 15. (Photo courtesy 84th Eng. Bn., 8th TSC)

Story and photo by
1st Lt. Danielle Monroe
84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade,
8th Theater Sustainment Command

PALAU ISLAND — A team of 13 from the 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, is continuing the success of the inter-service rotational civic action team on Palau, an island in the western Pacific Ocean and part of the larger island group of Micronesia.

The team is tasked with providing construction support, grassroots events and civic health engagements in order to foster goodwill and collaboration between the two nations.

“Working with the Air Force over the past two weeks has been infectious,” said Sgt. Loren Pino, referring to the CAT his unit replaced. “Our Soldiers are more motivated than ever to start the projects and interact with the community.”

As the ceremony concluded and Air Force personnel prepared to head home for some well-deserved time with their families, the “Never Daunted” Soldiers began preparing for the work ahead. Over the next six months, the unit will be tremendously busy ensuring its legacy is akin to that of the Air Force team.

The 523rd Eng. team will begin work on a pre-engineered building for the Ngardmau Fire and Police Station, and working to repair Aimeliek Road, which shows heavy signs of wear from traffic and weather.

“For me, it’s pretty awesome to know that the work I’m doing will directly benefit the people of Palau,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Vegafria, project supervisor for the fire and police station project. “It’s an honor to be able to use my knowledge and my skill set to train apprentices and help out other civil servants.”

With the strategic pivot towards the Pacific, missions like CATs are more important than ever. The relationships made, and the goodwill extended between the people of Palau and the CAT, are remarkable.

“The feel of this island reminds me of home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Benoit Fregiste, senior enlisted leader for the mission, and a native of the Virgin Islands. “I’m honored to be a part of something with such a direct impact to the local community and a community I can so easily relate to.”

The outgoing CAT team, led by Air Force Capt. Matthew Adams, left an indelible impact on the Palauan people. In its six-month rotation, his team completed three large-scale community projects, 14 technical assists, 55 community relations events; trained 15 and graduated four apprentices; and provided aid to more than 1,100 patients.

The team’s professionalism and dedication extended into the changeover process as well, by making sure its Army brothers-in-arms transition smoothly into their role.

The enthusiasm of the CAT is no-ticeable around Camp Katuu, the team’s home during this mission. As the 523rd prepares for multiple projects, it will continue the success of the Air Force team.

 

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