News: Closing ceremony marks winding down of Guard’s Honduras mission
NACO, Honduras – A ribbon cutting and closing ceremonies were held to mark the impending conclusion of U.S. Army South’s Beyond the Horizon-2012 mission June 26.
Thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen from 15 states and territories have worked together in the Missouri National Guard-headed task force since March as part of a partnership between the United States and Honduras.
Over the course of the exercise, missions included building clinics and schools as well as providing medical services to thousands of Hondurans, said Lt. Col. Robert Jones, commander of Task Force Tropic.
“The medical readiness training exercises provided opticals and hospital referrals for the first time,” Jones said. “And the schools and clinics we built will be here forever.”
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, commander of U.S. Army South, praised the effort of Task Force Tropic, headed by the Missouri National Guard.
“To the members of Task Force Tropic, I want to say, job well done,” Trombitas said. “The time you spent away from your families and civilian jobs was for a great cause. You’ve shown how the Army values of leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are put to use in everyday life.”
Beyond the Horizon 2012 is a U.S. Army South exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals to Honduras for training, while providing services to rural communities. Conducted annually, these missions are part of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and civic assistance program.
Throughout the spring and early summer, soldiers, airmen and sailors have worked on 10 construction projects, run two medical readiness training exercises, a veterinary readiness training exercise and are currently running a dental readiness exercise.
During the ceremony, Jones and four fellow Missouri National Guard soldiers were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the mission. Capt. Michael Paluczak, of St. Louis, 1st Lt. Arturo Ibarra, of Purdy, 1st Lt. Johnny Robey, of Jefferson City, and Sgt. Maj. Scott Mayer, of Lee’s Summit, were awarded certificates of recognition signed by Maj. Gen. Rene Arnoldo Osorio Canales, the Honduran chairman of the joint staff.
Shortly before the closing ceremony, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Quimistan to celebrate the completion of the Centro Salud Quimistan medical clinic there.
In the coming days, additional ceremonies will be held for other sites in the area.
In addition to construction projects, medical personnel saw thousands of patients during the exercise. In the towns of San Juan Del Sitio, Correderos and Pinalejo, doctors saw 5,203 patients and performed 5,990 procedures. In San Marcos and Petoa, doctors saw 9,152 patients and performed 24,176 procedures.
During a veterinary exercise in Pinalejo, veterinarians saw 1,372 animals. An additional 1,133 were seen in Petoa.
Currently, soldiers from the 192nd Dental Area Support Company are running a clinic in Naco Cortez. By the end of their rotation, they expect to see approximately 900 patients.
Trobmitas thanked all the soldiers for the outstanding work they had already accomplished.
“I want you to know that your sacrifices have made a lasting impression on the people of Honduras, U.S. Southern Command and Army south,” Trombitas said. “You are the best our nation has to offer, and I could not have asked you to execute this mission with more skill and professionalism.”
The overall Beyond the Horizon-Honduras mission is scheduled to end in early July.
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