ZAMBOANGA, Philippines Aca,!" Sixteen members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) Civil Affairs Company received medals from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in ceremonies held in Manila and in Zamboanga City Nov. 23.

"I am so proud of these Soldiers for their outstanding efforts supporting the AFP with development projects and training," said Col. Bill Coultrup, commander of JSOTF-P. "They have been working non-stop to assist the AFP making a difference in the community, and contributing to peace and development in Mindanao."

The servicemembers are from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), headquartered in Fort Bragg, N.C., have been working in central Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago for the last nine months.

During this time, civil affairs teams have assisted the AFP in turning over 41 new schools, local government buildings, water wells, roads and other infrastructure projects in addition to helping repair and renovate dozens of others.

The AFP held the Zamboanga ceremony at the parade field located near WESTMINCOM headquarters. The awards included the AFP's Civil Action Medal, Military Commendation Medal, and the Military Merit Medal. Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, commander WESTMINCOM, gave the keynote address and pinned the awards on each recipient.

"Today is a special occasion as we give due recognition to our brothers and sisters in the U.S. Armed Forces who excelled in their specialties," said Dolorfino. "These women and men performed exceptionally well in their assignments."

The teams also completed 68 medical and dental civic action programs, providing free medical and dental care to thousands of Filipinos. Additionally, JSOTF-P partnered with AFP, local governments, and other organizations conducting 164 community relations events.

In a separate ceremony in Manila that day, JSOTF-P Civil Affairs Soldiers received six medals by AFP Lt. Gen. Nestor Z. Ochoa, Commander of the National Development Support Command. Recently appointed to the position, Ochoa said development is the last phase in the campaign against insurgents. He commended the team for their assistance in furthering the mission of his command.

Major Winston M. Marbella, Civil Affairs Commander, who was presented the AFP Civic Action Medal, Military Merit Medal, and Gawad sa Kaunlaran Medal remarked, "I accept these awards on behalf of all the hardworking JSOTF-P and US Civil Affairs Soldiers in Mindanao. It's a significant honor to be recognized by our host nation; a testament to Civil Affairs effectiveness in the irregular warfare environment. Maraming salamat po (thank you very much)."

A new civil affairs company from the same battalion has arrived in the southern Philippines and will continue the work of the previous company.

"I am honored to be a member of Army civil affairs. We established great partnerships in the southern Philippines and it was wonderful working with the Filipino people," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua DuBois, a member CAT 732.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16