By Staff Sgt. Whitney HoustonMay 19, 2011
KAMPONG SPEU PROVINCE, Cambodia - Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and U.S. Army engineers continue construction of a new school in Taing Sia Village, Kampong Speu Province May 16, as part of the Engineer Civic Action Projects of exercise Angkor Sentinel 11.
Angkor Sentinel 11 is a peace support operations exercise co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and RCAF designed to improve military mission readiness and effectiveness of all participating countries.
U.S. engineers from the 544th Engineer Company, 52nd Eng. Battalion, 555th Eng. Brigade, out of Fort Carson, Colo., have been in Cambodia since late March, often working around the clock to ensure the school is finished on schedule.
"The advanced party got here on the 25th of March and the main body (of Soldiers) arrived on the 15th of April, and we project to have the school finished no later than May 25th," said Cpt. Margaret Maasberg, commander, 544th Eng. Co., 52nd Eng. Bn., 555th Eng. Bde. "We have currently put four welders on site from 6:00 in the evening to 6:30 in the morning to make sure that we meet our deadline."
Maasberg explained that the new building will offer three classrooms capable of seating 60 students each, a new potable-water well, an onsite latrine, as well as a soccer field behind the building.
Working together on construction projects like the Taing Sia School has given both RCAF and U.S. Soldiers valuable experience and has provided a venue for sharing their construction techniques with each other.
"The Cambodian Soldiers\' ingenuity has been really useful to the project," said Staff Sgt. Floyd Wheetley, project supervisor, 544th Eng. Co. He said his Soldiers are going to take home a lot of new techniques and that he feels they have also taught the RCAF engineers a lot about safety measures and technology.
Construction of a new school in the Taing Sia Village has proven to be meaningful to the local community as there has not been an adequate school in that area for more than 30 years.
"I am very pleased to work with the U.S. Army, especially in the construction of a school," said Col. Chancheat Huot, RCAF construction supervisor of the ENCAP. "The people around here are very appreciative because they haven't had a school here since the civil war."
The Soldiers working on the school say they have felt appreciation for their work from the people living in the area, said Huot.
"It's very humbling when you're driving to the project site every day and the villagers are excited to see you," said Maasberg. "I think this is of great significance. (The people) are all very excited, supportive, and very eager to get into the school and start teaching."
In addition to building the school, the engineers renovated the dilapidated Domnak Chan Health Clinic in Trapaing Antong Village, also located in Kampong Speu Province. Renovations included a new roof, a potable water system, solar panels to power the clinic and a fresh coat of paint.