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Thursday, May 24, 2012

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance: Honduras.

Honduras: Missouri Army Guard Soldiers celebrate building a schoolhouse for Hondurans

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten
U.S. Army South

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy South's Task Force Tropic, commanded by Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Jones, Missouri Army National Guard, and Leonidas Matamoros, a community leader who had been instrumental in getting this project for his community, thanked each for their mutual help in building a school, in Micheletti, Honduras, May 8, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten)(Released)open link in new window download hi-res photo

NACO CORTES, Honduras (5/23/12) - The oppressive Central American heat and humidity did not dissuade a crowd of more than 200 Honduran citizens from Micheletti in joining in the festivities May 9.

U.S. Army South’s Task Force Tropic, commanded by Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Jones, Missouri Army National Guard joined with Micheletti key community leaders and San Pedro Sula officials for a “First Stone” ceremony at the site of a two-room school that is under construction as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Beyond the Horizon 2012.

Beyond the Horizon 2012 is a U.S. Army South planned exercise that deploys military engineers and medical professionals to Honduras for training, while providing services to rural communities. BTHs are conducted annually in the U.S Southern Command area of responsibility and are part of its humanitarian and civic assistance program.

The local leaders got a tour of the partially finished schoolhouse and bathroom.

Jones along with project manager, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Vitale, 294th Engineer Company, 203rd Engineering Battalion, 35th Engineering Brigade; San Pedro Sulas’ vice-mayor Dr. Reiner A. Laitano; project manager for all villages at San Pedro de Sula, Dunia Jimenez, Preecidente de Patronatos, San Pedrd Sula, and Col. Calixto Tejada Honduran 14th Infantry Battalion executive officer, grabbed some shovels and dug into the earth symbolically displaying the commitment they have to the people living in this community.

Jones then stood in the midst of the large crowd as the Honduran officials gave speeches showing their gratitude to the Americans for their effort in building the school.

Once they finished, Jones stepped forward from the crowd to return the favor, his words echoed those of the Honduran speakers by stating he was “to the local community for their support of his Soldiers' training and commitment to the schoolhouse under construction.”

Before he said those words, on his way to the microphone, he encountered Leonidas Matamoros, a community leader who all day long had been leading his community in cheering and applauding and had been instrumental in getting this project for his community.

Jones stopped and with a hardy handshake and a bear hug the two thanked each for their mutual help in building the school.

The day, however, wasn’t just for the dignitaries and the commanders; it was for all those standing out in the heat, humidity and sun whose partnership is bringing a new school to this community.

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