News: Medal of Recognition Awarded to Joint Special Operations Task Forces-Philippines Commander
By Lt. Steffani Cacho
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Senior Armed Forces of the Philippines leader presented a Philippine military medal June 18 to the commander of U.S. forces in the southern Philippines for his contributions that has brought stability and security to war torn areas of Basilan and Sulu.
The Western Mindanao Command Commander, Lt. Gen. Ben D. Dolorfino, AFP, presented the “Gawad sa Kaunlaran” Medal to Col. William J. Coultrup, United States Army, as fitting recognition for his contributions to community development especially in war torn areas of Basilan and Sulu. The award recognized Coultrup’s efforts during his stint as the commander of Joint Special Operations Task Forces-Philippines from September 2007 to July 2010, at a formal ceremony held at Camp Navarro.
For his part, Dolorfino reiterated his gratitude for the assistance extended by the JSOTF-P, through the leadership and command of Coultrup, to the mission of WMC to bring about conditions conducive to nation building and peace, progress, and prosperity in the western Mindanao provinces. He emphasized that the “Gawad sa Kaunlaran” is an award given for acts that are geared towards development which has been the cornerstone of the relationship of the two military commands.
“Col. Coultrup has earned the lasting admiration and gratitude not only from the Western Mindanao Command, but the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well,” Dolorfino emphasized.
During his term, JSOTF-P provided medical supplies, school supplies, and construction materials which made way for the success of numerous civic action projects such as medical, dental, and veterinarian assistance and outreach and engineering projects to include renovation and construction of classrooms and school buildings and establishment of farm-to-market roads, all amounting to more than $28 million dollars.
“The award of the ‘Gawad sa Kaunlaran’ was given to Coultrup for his pursuits and infallible contributions to the socioeconomic and noncombat activities of the WMC, and the AFP as a whole,” said Dolorfino.
In his remarks, Coultrup shared the honor he received with the men and women that he worked with, and the personnel of the AFP. He acknowledged the effort and dedication of both armed forces to help bring about peace and prosperity in areas that have been embroiled with strife and allow individuals and families to hope for a better future, while recognizing that more still needs to be done. He also emphasized how the concept of “Kapit Bisig,” the framework of cooperation between the two nations, was a model for future efforts in all regions where terrorism exists.
“Confident in the relationships we [JSOTF-P and AFP] have forged and our collective achievements over the past three years, I challenge all of you to continue moving forward in this common cause leveraging the same innovation, ingenuity and initiative that has brought us to this historic moment. It has been my distinct pleasure to serve with you,” said Coultrup.
In the same ceremony, Coultrup was also presented a plaque of recognition and an “Agong” as a memento of his stay in Mindanao. Coultrup is set to be replaced on the first week of July 2010.
The occasion was witnessed by ranking commanders in the area of WMC to include the Rear Adm. Alexander Pama, Commander, Naval Forces Western Mindanao, APF, Brig. Gen. Gregorio E. Macapagal, Deputy Commander of the 3rd Air Division, Philippine Air Force; and a gathering of 400 men and women of WMC and JSOTF-P.