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Army Takes on CAT Palau for First Time in a Decade

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100122-19
Release Date: 1/22/2010 3:55:00 PM

By Oyaol Ngirairikl, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Sailors of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 with Civic Action Team (CAT) Palau turned over Camp Katuu to the U.S. Army team from 130th Engineering Battalion during a ceremony in the Republic of Palau Jan. 15.

The incoming team of 13 Soldiers is the first Army Civic Action Team sent to Palau in a decade. The 130th Engineering Battalion operates out of Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

"Being the first Army engineering team in Palau, we're looking forward to building our relationship with the community and creating a strong and favorable presence," said officer-in-charge 1st Lt. Christopher Gensler. "We have mechanics, engineers and a medic, and we're all ready to get to work and help our neighbors out here in the Pacific."

CAT Palau fulfills U.S. Pacific Command's engagement strategy by directing and supporting the civic action program in community construction, apprentice training, medical assistance, and community relations programs.

"The positive presence, infrastructure development, and apprentice training are in alignment with PACOM's objectives to develop cooperative security and strengthen relationships with allies and partners," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Jasinski, officer-in-charge at Det. CAT Guam, who oversees CAT Palau.

While in Palau the outgoing team of 13 Sailors constructed a restroom facility for Angaur Elementary School, began building a 900-foot fence for the Palau High School, and executed a renovation project for a police and fire substation in Ngardmau State during its seven-month deployment.

The team also conducted maintenance on two World War II memorials on the islands of Peleliu and Angaur, replaced the roof on the Airai State medical clinic, and provided medical examinations to more than 1,500 patients from all 16 states. The states of Palau are located on a chain of islands. The distance between the main island of Babeldaob, on which Camp Katuu is located, and other islands requires CAT Palau's medic to travel by boat for anywhere from two hours to an entire day to reach residents.

Lt. j.g. Russell Dotson, officer-in-charge, said his team has enjoyed the opportunity to represent the U.S. military and work with the people and government of Palau.

"The team was consistently asked to participate in the local functions and many customs and traditions," he said. "The people of Palau treated us as one of their own."

Palau President Johnson Toribiong called the Sailors "great ambassadors."

"Seabees at Camp Katuu have been here for many years, and their presence here has been symbolic of U.S. commitment to Palau," Toribiong said. "But more than symbolic, Seabees as well as the Air Force personnel that have deployed to Palau have done a lot for the people of Palau, including construction projects, the apprenticeship program that provides hands-on education for young Palauans, and medical services at their clinic."

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.

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