News: Marines repair local school near Ban Chan Krem
Story by Lance Cpl. Adam Miller
BAN CHAN KREM, Kingdom of Thailand – U.S. Marines and sailors and Royal Thai Marines used their expertise, and some elbow grease, to make improvements to an elementary school Feb. 20 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand, to thank the community for hosting them during exercise Cobra Gold 2013.
Cobra Gold is a recurring, multinational and multiservice exercise hosted annually by Thailand and developed by the Thai and U.S. militaries.
During the exercise, Thai and U.S. forces conducted training designed to enhance interoperability and strengthen regional relationships.
“As a community service project, members of both the Royal Thai and U.S. military came together to make some improvements on the Baan Khlong Pong elementary school near Ban Chan Krem,” said Lt. Robert O. Guillams, the battalion chaplain for 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
“Since we’re out here every year for exercise Cobra Gold, it is important to build and maintain our relationship not only with the Thai military with whom we train, but also with the local Thai people who live in the area,” explained Guilliams.
The bilateral team of volunteers worked together to improve upon some of the structures in and around the school.
“Marines and sailors took up a collection of their own money to donate to the school,” Guillams said. “Overall, we donated nearly $2,000, which the school will use toward school supplies and meals for the children.”
Some walls were rebuilt, leaky roofs were fixed, drainage ditches were cleaned out, and general landscaping was done to improve the school grounds, creating a safer environment for the children.
“I helped clean up and dig out some of the trenches, so when it rains the kids’ classrooms don’t flood,” said Jorge Geliga-Segui, a supply administration and operations specialist with the unit. “It was hard work, but there were plenty of (Royal Thai and U.S.) Marines pitching in.
"It’s rewarding doing things like this and it makes me grateful for what I have,” he added.
The service members’ generosity surprised the beneficiaries of the project.
“We are thankful for the help the (Thai and U.S.) Marines gave us,” said Suchinee Chaifao, chief teacher at the school. “When I heard (the Thai and U.S. Marines) were going to help us, I thought they were just going to come here and clean up a little bit, but I was surprised that they took up a donation for us and fixed our buildings too.”
The students and teachers were not the only ones who benefited from the improvements made to the school and its grounds.
“I love coming out here, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Guilliams said. “It touches my heart, knowing we’re able to help them.”
CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, demonstrates U.S. commitment to its long-standing ally the Kingdom of Thailand, and toward regional partnership, prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Currently, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, is attached to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the Marine Corps unit deployment program. The Marine Corps unit deployment program rotates U.S.-based units to III MEF in Japan for six months and is designed to provide the rotational unit unique training opportunities and augment the capabilities of III MEF.