By Engineering Aide 3rd Class (SCW) Lawrence Romang
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74
GULFPORT, Miss. - Now midway through their six-month deployment, members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74, Detail (Det) Niger have been hard at work both in completing their construction tasking and in improving community relations between U.S. forces and the local population.
Providing general engineering support to Special Operations Command Africa, they have successfully installed a clamshell door on a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment (JSOAD) Large Area Maintenance Shelter (LAMS) hangar and continue to provide camp maintenance support for the base. They have also been volunteering, every Friday, at the local elementary school, getting the chance to interact with students.
On a typical Friday, as the trucks of Det Niger approach, chants of “Cody! Cody! Cody!” can be heard coming from all corners of the schoolyard. As the kids swarm the vehicles, it becomes apparent that it’s Builder 3rd Class (BU3) Cody Ray the children are calling for. “I’m sure it’s just because my name is easy to say,” laughs Ray. “It’s a lot of fun hanging out with the kids. They are eager to see us and run around and play with us.”
After the excitement from the arrival dies down and after every child is greeted with a “bonjour” and a handshake, the kids are divided into two groups. The first group is directed to run off and change into soccer uniforms so a scrimmage game can begin. Members of Det Niger gladly join in on the fun. “Even though there is a huge language barrier, something like soccer can bring people together,” says Steelworker 3rd Class Tyler Ault. “It’s a good way to play with the kids without having to know French.”
The other group of students are led into the classroom where they partake in a variety of activities, depending on what the volunteer from Det Niger has decided to teach. Often times, the activity is drawing and the volunteer will write on a chalkboard as the students try and replicate what they see.
“It’s always a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s hard getting through some of their shyness. One time, it looked like they got mad when I tried to draw on their paper with them, but as soon as I took out my own notebook, they all wanted to draw on my sheets,” said Chief Steelworker Donald Farwell. “It’s a lot of fun, and I try to send out whoever wants to go every week.” Other activities that the Seabees and schoolchildren do together include cooking and sewing.
The Seabees have been grateful for the opportunity to visit and play with the young students of Niamey, but found they wanted to do more. Noticing that the children’s desks were in disrepair, they decided to donate their time toward fixing them. From the first day, the students wanted to help. It turned into a great experience as the Seabees were able to teach the children some carpentry skills, and at the same time, show the kids what they do and why they are here.
Next on the list of tasking for the ‘Bees: soccer goals.
With its home-port in Gulfport, Miss., NMCB 74 is a 580-person Seabee Battalion currently deployed to multiple locations in U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility, providing general and contingency engineering support to Combatant and Component Commanders in order to enhance their operational capabilities across the full spectrum of military operations. Operating forward, NMCB 74 strives to capitalize on engagement opportunities and build lasting relationships, ultimately paving the way for future partnerships.
For more news and information on NMCB 74, visit the Command Facebook page at https://www. Facebook.com/#!/FEARLESS74.
|Date Posted:||04.21.2014 08:39|
This work, NMCB 74 Detail Niger volunteers to help local schoolchildren, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.