TARLAC, PHILIPPINES - Engineers with the U.S. and Philippine armed forces worked April 8 to put finishing touches on classrooms built at the Pedro L. Quines Elementary School during a Balikatan 2011 civic assistance project.

Officials said the added classrooms will provide much needed educational space for the growing community.

"This area is especially in need of additional schools," said project commander Col. Harold Cabreros, an Armed Forces of the Philippines Army officer. "More children will be attending this school this year, so we had to address this increase."

U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey Milhorn, commander of the 130th Engineer Battalion, also oversaw the construction project.

"Today is a day to give thanks to both U.S. and Philippine forces for building this school," Milhorn said. "Everything has gone as scheduled and we've had no problems."

First Lt. Clinton Holbrook, a U.S. Marine with the Combat Assault Battalion, said a brotherhood between U.S. Marines and community members was instantaneous as soon as boots hit the ground. Holbrook led day-to-day operations with his AFP counterpart.

"The first day we got here, we had lunch together and we've been good friends ever since," said Holbrook, whose men recently returned from Afghanistan. "[Lunch is] really the only time during the work day when we can interact socially, but it goes a long way in furthering our working relationship."

Holbrook praised AFP forces on site for their knowledge and work ethic.

"These guys really know what they're doing," he said. "A lot of the equipment they use is old-school technology, but they make it work for them and the results are reflective of that."

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