SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Emerging from the aquamarine waters of the western Pacific Ocean lies a chain of approximately 340 mushroom-shaped islands rich in biodiversity, culture, and history. The 84th Engineer Battalion, nicknamed "Never Daunted" is no stranger to these islands and the unique international partnership between the U.S. and the Republic of Palau.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civic Action Team (CAT) program in Palau, through which the Army, Navy, and Air Force continue to deploy small teams to provide engineering, medical, and community outreach capabilities since 1969. In preparation for the upcoming rotation to Palau scheduled for August 2019 to February 2020, the team members of CAT Palau 84-06 reflect on the significance of the mission and the opportunity to positively impact international relations in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of operations.
"Our team looks forward to providing a positive U.S. presence through construction, engineering, mechanical, and medical help wherever we can," said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel McGlone, CAT Palau 84-06 Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. "It's a great feeling knowing our team is here to make a positive impact. I hope our efforts continue to endear us as beloved members of the Palau community."
Since its independence in 1994, Palau has maintained a strong partnership with the U.S. through the Compact of Free Association. This bilateral agreement reinforces U.S. commitments to improve Palau's resilience to natural disasters, increase domestic food security and build economic growth through fair and reciprocal trade and investment.
Over the next six months, the Never Daunted Soldiers will work hand-in-hand to provide general engineering assistance and training for the local population. Through a variety of construction and community relations projects, the Civic Action Team continuously partners with local organizations such as schools, medical clinics, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
"We are thankful to be welcomed by the communities of Palau and for the opportunity to make an enormous impact," reflected Staff Sergeant Alex Richards, horizontal construction sergeant. "Everyone who is a part of the Civic Action Team brings something different to the table and we are all excited to be a part of a lasting legacy."
This grassroots approach fosters trust and builds relationships that span cultural differences, allowing each person involved with CAT Palau to learn more about one another. From facilitating after school reading programs at the community library to remodeling civic centers in the city of Koror, each project is an opportunity for Soldiers to learn about Palau and to leave a lasting impression of the "Never Daunted" work ethic, technical expertise, and compassion.
CAT Palau 84-06 is set to assume responsibility from the outgoing team from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 on 16 August 2019 in Koror, Palau.
1st Lt. Kirsten Walsh is the Officer in Charge for Civic Action Team Palau 84-06, 84th Engineer Battalion. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science and commissioned through Army ROTC at Dickinson College. She is a graduate of the Engineer Basic Officer Leader Course, Sapper Leader Course, Air Assault School and Unit Movement Officer Course.