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Seabees, Marines Complete School Renovations in Guatemala

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110206-06

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffery Tilghman Williams

High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

SAN JOSE, Guatemala (NNS) -- Seabees assigned to Detail Bravo of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 and Marines with 2nd Marine Logistics Group wrapped up two weeks of subject matter expert exchanges with Guatemalan sailors and soldiers with a project completion ceremony Feb. 4.

The ceremony, at Escuela Campamento LaBarrita, included local cuisine, traditional dance displays and a certificate presentation to the U.S. Sailors and Marines who performed a variety of construction and repair projects at the school.

The joint forces team worked side by side with their Guatemalan counterparts repairing weather damaged roofs, constructing desks, welding security bars, reinforcing damaged trusses, installing electrical wiring and making plumbing repairs at Escuela Santa Marta and Escuela Campamento LaBarrita. In addition, a joint forces team completed a South East Asia (SEA) hut to be used for additional classroom space at Escuela Justo Rufino Morales Mackarty.

"This is just a small token of our appreciation," said Escuela Campamento LaBarrita Principal Sulma Siomara Sanchez Recinos. "This far surpasses what we expected them to assist us with, and we are very grateful."

The need for the repairs was a direct result of Tropical Storm Agatha that brought widespread floods to much of Central America in May 2010.

"The damage caused by (Tropical Storm) Agatha left these schools in pretty bad shape, but fortunately we were able to do some repairs and make some improvements for the teachers and students here," said Chief Builder Estephan Garcia."

The primary focus of the renovations was to build and strengthen bonds between the U.S. and Guatemalan governments through military information exchanges and partnership efforts. But there was also an opportunity for some impromptu repairs.

"Once we realized we were ahead of schedule and had extra material, we decided to make additional roof installments, weld security gates and design a tool that allows the kids to transport drinking water to the classroom more efficiently," said Garcia.

The ceremony lasted approximately one hour and concluded with a standing ovation by the students, parents and faculty in attendance.

"It's always sad leaving after establishing friendships and bonds with people, but we know the work we did here will benefit these kids for years to come," said Construction Electrician 1st Class Sammy Hill.

Southern Partnership Station 2011 is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information-sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. Maritime Strategy, including Theater Security Cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

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