Wolfpack builds opportunities

| March 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
PHITSANULOK, Thailand — Soldiers of 643rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, render a joint salute alongside their Thai and Sing counterparts at the dedication of the building they constructed during exercise Cobra Gold, here, recently. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Ester, 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

PHITSANULOK, Thailand — Soldiers of 643rd Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, render a joint salute alongside their Thai and Sing counterparts at the dedication of the building they constructed during exercise Cobra Gold, here, recently. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Ester, 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

1st Lt. Scott Kantner
643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

FORT SHAFTER — For the third straight year, the 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, deployed to Thailand to construct schools and spread education to the children of the country in support of exercise Cobra Gold, recently.

Cobra Gold is an annual six-week joint exercise between the United States, Thailand and six other nations.

The exercise is a “cooperative engagement” in which U.S. Pacific Command’s forces and assets are employed to strengthen alliances and friendships while deterring aggression.

This year, “Wolfpack” Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 643rd Eng. Co., deployed for more than 40 days to Phitsanulok providence to construct a new kindergarten and first aid building for the Ban Hua Wang Krang School.

The school, which serves 70 children through the instruction of four teachers, had been severely damaged by termite infestation and floods.

The Wolfpack took on the challenge of constructing a 1,680-square-foot concrete masonry building in just over a month. (The replacement building is impervious to insect damage and resistant to the flooding, which plagues the area.)

While heavily engaged in construction, the Wolfpack worked side-by-side with Thai and Sing engineers, experiencing the construction techniques and culture of each force.

The Thai soldiers learned how to efficiently lay quality concrete block, while the U.S. and Sing Soldiers learned the Thai methods for finishing stucco, which was a significantly more time-consuming process, but produced a far smoother finish than standard U.S. stucco.

“We learned a lot from the Thai engineers, and they learned a lot from us,” said Sgt. Jonathan Ayers, a team leader with the unit. “We drove the construction timeline and made sure it got done on time, but they showed us how they lay stucco inches thick to produce a wall as smooth as drywall.”

With the job nearly complete, the Wolfpack were given time to explore the local Thai culture.

While in Thailand in support of exercise Cobra Gold, Soldiers of 643rd Eng. C., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, had the opportunity to visit a local elephant sanctuary.

While in Thailand in support of exercise Cobra Gold, Soldiers of 643rd Eng. C., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, had the opportunity to visit a local elephant sanctuary.

The local Phitsanulok temple, Phra Si Ratana Temple (Wat Yai), is one of the most revered temples in Thailand and hosted a fair toward the end of January, allowing the Wolfpack Soldiers to experience local Thai culture and cuisine.

While exploring, the Wolfpack also happened upon an elephant sanctuary only a short drive away from the project site, where they were greeted with the opportunity to pet, feed and even ride the nearly three-ton creatures.

“That is one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Spc. Ethan Mustain, carpentry and masonry specialist with the 634th. “It made the whole trip to Thailand worth it.”

After 30 days of hard work with limited rest, the Soldiers completed the final touch-ups and installed the dedication sign in late February.

As a tribute to the Soldiers for the new school, and new opportunities, the children and principal conducted a dedication ceremony, Feb. 21, in front of the provincial governor, U.S. ambassador, the commanders of the Thai and Sing forces for Cobra Gold, and the U.S. commander of Army Forces in Japan.

The principal referred to the hard work done by U.S. Soldiers as, “The good stuff.”

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Category: Exercises, News

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