By 1st Lt. Danielle Monroe, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment CommandMarch 12, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (March 12, 2013) -- The 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, charged 13 Soldiers with continuing the success of the inter-service rotational Civic Action Team in Palau, an island in the western Pacific Ocean and part of the larger island group of Micronesia, for the next eight months.
The team is tasked with providing construction support, grassroots events, and civic health engagements in order to foster goodwill and collaboration between the two nations.
The outgoing Civic Action Team, or CAT, led by Air Force Capt. Matthew Adams, left an indelible impact on the Palauan people. In their six-month rotation, his team completed three large-scale community projects, 14 technical assists, 55 community relations events, trained 15 and graduated four apprentices, and provided aid to more than 1,100 patients. Their professionalism and dedication extended into the changeover process as well, by making sure their Army "brothers-in-arms" smoothly transitioned into their new role.
"Working with [the Air Force] over the past two weeks has been infectious," Sgt. Loren Pino said. "Our Soldiers are more motivated than ever to start the projects and interact with the community."
As the ceremony concluded, Feb. 15, and the Air Force prepared to head home for some well deserved time with their families, the "Never Daunted" Soldiers began preparing for the work ahead.
Over the next six months, they will be tremendously busy ensuring their legacy is akin to that of the previous team. The will begin work on a pre-engineered building for the Ngardmau Fire and Police Station, as well as working to repair Aimeliek Road, which shows heavy signs of wear due to traffic and weather.
"For me, it's pretty awesome to know that the work I'm doing will directly benefit the people of Palau," said Staff Sgt. Justin Vegafria, the project supervisor for the Fire and Police Station Project. "It's an honor to be able to use my knowledge and my skill set to train apprentices and help out other civil servants."
With the strategic "pivot" towards the Pacific, missions like the CAT's are more important than ever. The relationships made and the goodwill extended between the people of Palau and the CAT are already remarkable.
"The feel of this island reminds me of home," said Sgt. 1st Class Benoit Fregiste, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission, and a native of the Virgin Islands. "I'm honored to be a part of something with such a direct impact to the local community and a community I can so easily relate to."
The excitement in the Soldiers of the Civil Action Team is electric and palpable around Camp Katuu, their home during this mission. As the team prepares for multiple projects, engagements, community events, medical assessments, and apprentice training they look forward to the work to come, and are quietly confident in their abilities to perpetuate the rousing success the Air Force left in their capable hands.