Outrigger canoeing strengthens partnership

| February 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Outrigger canoeing boat team pulls their canoe out of the water after the team-building exercise in Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu, Hi., Jan. 30, 2018. In an effort to strengthen international relationships, United States Army Pacific hosted personnel from the British Army to participate in a team building exercise facilitating outrigger canoeing. (U.S. Army photo by 1st. Lt. Ryan DeBooy)

Story and photo by
1st Lt. Ryan DeBooy
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

HONOLULU — A canoe isn’t a tactical military transport vessel and water balloons aren’t precision munitions, but they created a fun atmosphere for two of the world’s greatest military allies.

U.S. Army-Pacific hosted an outrigger canoe team-building event with members of the British Army, Jan. 25 and 30, at Keehi Lagoon, here.

Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division had a unique opportunity to be a part of the event.

Outrigger canoeing boat team paddles their canoe during the team-building exercise in Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu, Hi., Jan. 30, 2018. In an effort to strengthen international relationships, United States Army Pacific hosted personnel from the British Army to participate in a team building exercise facilitating outrigger canoeing. (U.S. Army photo by 1st. Lt. Ryan DeBooy)

“We are here to support an event that USARPAC put on, to have a good time and build relationships with our British partners and within our own company,” said U.S. Army Capt. David Zelaya, commander of B. Co., 1-27th Inf. Bn. “I’ve got my squad leaders, platoon leaders and platoon sergeants all having a good time, but more importantly, building the bonds that we’ll need during times of stress.”

Zelaya used the event to reward Soldiers who had demonstrated exceptional performance.

“Today provides the Soldiers a great opportunity to come out here and experience something they wouldn’t be able to do unless they were stationed in Hawaii,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. James Cjeka, executive officer of B. Co., 1-27th Inf. Bn.

Col. Mike Burns, USARPAC deputy chief of staff, organized the event with the British Army and the nonprofit Ka Mamala Hoe Canoe Club.

“We put them in some canoes – some wa‘as – with all our different volunteers from Ka Mamala Hoe as our steersmen and just let them go loose a little bit,” said Allegra Thompson, co-founder of the Ka Mamala Hoe Canoe Club. “The event was geared toward having fun and introducing them to a little bit of the Hawaiian culture.”

Allegra and her father, Scotty Thompson, have been providing service members and veterans with adaptive outrigger paddling opportunities since 2007.

Coach and steersman of the Ka Mamala Hoe Canoe Club leads her boat team in a huddle chant before entering the water during the team-building exercise in Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu, Hi., Jan. 30, 2018. In an effort to strengthen international relationships, United States Army Pacific hosted personnel from the British Army to participate in a team building exercise facilitating outrigger canoeing. (U.S. Army photo by 1st. Lt. Ryan DeBooy)

“We started our partnership eight years ago by a request from friends that are with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Schofield,” said Allegra. “We bring them out here to Keehi Lagoon and work with them on paddling, keeping them tied to the community and to each other.”

British Army Capt. Jonny Silver, anti-tank platoon commander, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, and members of his platoon, have been on an expedition across the globe and used the team-building event to partner with the U.S. Army.

“We just arrived in Pearl Harbor. We sailed from Panama by the Galapagos Islands. That’s approximately 5,000 nautical miles; that’s nearly twice the distance from London to New York,” said Silver.

British and U.S. Soldiers were placed together in mixed canoe crews to compete in quarter-mile races. Those who demonstrated the best teamwork were awarded medals.

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