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    Exercise Balikatan 2012 builds more than just classrooms, friendships develop

    Exercise Balikatan 2012 builds more than just classrooms, friendships develop

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson | Philippines Air Force Airman 2nd Class Erick G. Legaspi, mason and heavy equipment...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson 

    Exercise Balikatan

    PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines- More than just classrooms are being built by Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military members at Kandis Elementary School, April 9, 2012, during Exercise Balikatan 2012. Lasting friendships are developing as well.

    Service members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military who are participating in the 28th BK12 are in the middle of construction of five school buildings in four rural barangays in Puerto Princesa, Republic of the Philippines as part of their interoperability enhancement activities and the mission to assist in the improvement of education in the country by building one classroom at a time.

    It’s balikatan, “shoulder-to-shoulder,“ training like this that captures the spirit of BK12 and allows the participants to strengthen not only partnerships, but also establish personal friendships that will increase their ability to work together in the future.

    “Airman Legaspia has become my mentor, and I really like working with him. I try to learn his different methods of doing things and wouldn’t be as experienced on this job site as I am without him guiding me each day,” said U.S. Army Spc. James Jusi, interior electrician, 643rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

    Jusi, who moved to the United States in 2005 from Batangas City, Republic of the Philippines, joined the Army in 2010 and is now participating in his third humanitarian assistance mission. He said coming back here to work alongside his ‘brothers’ from the AFP improving schools, makes this experience even more worthwhile.

    “This is my country and I remember the way I grew up,” said Jusi. “To be afforded the opportunity to come ‘home’ and work with the AFP to build here has been an honor.”

    During BK12, which is being held on the islands of Luzon and Palawan, Republic of the Philippines, Philippine and U.S. troops will conduct a series of humanitarian civic assistance projects, conduct a natural disaster response command post exercise and conduct a series of field training exercises.

    Philippines Air Force Airman 2nd Class Erick G. Legaspi, mason and heavy equipment operator, Air Force Reserves, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines said, “This is my first mission like this one and it is very exciting. I haven’t worked with U.S. forces and find that they are very hard workers.”

    Both agreed that if they ever have to chance to see each other again, that they would be grateful to do another mission together.

    “We are going to keep in touch on Facebook,” said Jusi.

    The two build camaraderie with their fellow counterparts while the school nears completion, and build a longstanding relationship that has contributed to regional security and stability, and more importantly a friendship brought together by BK12.



    Date Taken: 04.09.2012
    Date Posted: 04.18.2012 05:16
    Story ID: 86903
    Location: PH

    Web Views: 220
    Downloads: 0