Story and photos by
Spc. Brianne Kim
Army News Service
CHAIYAPHUM PROVINCE, Thailand — In the 36th iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold, Thai and U.S. forces are coming together, along with other nations within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on supporting the needs and humanitarian interests of local populations around the region.
In support of this mission, many Thai and U.S. forces have come together to build various multipurpose rooms for the school in support of Exercise Cobra Gold, that has a high focus on building greater interoperability and stronger relations between nations within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
9th Mission Support Command participation in school project
The Ban Ta Kham Rai Due Samakkee School, located in the Chaiyaphum Province of Thailand, has been given a welcomed new addition. The school has just two four-room buildings to house the nine teachers and 132 students currently enrolled there in grades one through six.
This school supports three villages with a total population of 2,300, who also gain access to the new building for village meetings and holiday or village functions.
Missions during Exercise Cobra Gold focus highly on improving the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare of local residents. In support of this focus, the partnered nations construct many buildings in various rural communities each year; however, it is not often that the local villagers assist with the projects.
“We wouldn’t have gotten the help of the villagers if the village leader never came to see the project and speak with us,” said 1st Lt. Quintin Duenas, site officer in charge, 797th executive officer, 9th Mission Support Command. “When the village and district leaders know that there’s a big project going on, they’ll do whatever they can to help.”
“The village leader spoke to the community about helping with the new building because many of their kids and families go to school here,” said Boonsorn Siriburee, teacher assistant of the Ban Ta Kham Rai Due Samakkee School. “The people are very proud to volunteer and be a part of constructing this new building for their children to use.”
While the Thais and Americans are glad to be working together, there have been some minor communication difficulties, all of which have been easily overcome with a little bit of patience and understanding.
“On a communication level, everyone has a little more patience with each other than what I saw in previous years,” said Spc. Darlane McNamara, 797th electrician. “They’re learning some English; we’re learning a little bit of Thai. We can count numbers now and read their rulers; we can communicate a little more.”
Along with overcoming communication barriers both nations have been able to teach each other the various building techniques they use.
“I’ve had a great experience with the many nations here,” said Wichean Thongrae, school consult of education management. “I am learning the different techniques and materials they use to build and also am able to teach them the Thai way of building things.”
“They have their methods of being quick and efficient while we have our methods of being proficient and sustainable for long periods of time, so we each have different assets that we bring to the table and can teach each other,” Duenas said.
Working together to strengthen an already longstanding friendship between the Thai and American people has always been a top priority during Exercise Cobra Gold. Seeing the relationship extend beyond the armed forces and into the local communities shows how strongly the countries are bonded.
I am appreciative and grateful for the new building, said Thongrae enthusiastically. I am also proud to be able to help build it with the other villagers and the many nations coming together for the same purpose.
This has been very good because many of the people here don’t see and experience this normally, said Siriburee. I am very happy they could come here today and see these nations working together.
This gives the locals a chance to give back and help contribute to the efforts, Duenas said. This is all just part of this coalition and collaboration together because we were able to reach out to the community, and the community responded.