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372nd Engineer Company lays the first bricks at Santa Librada school

Spc. Michael Wiken, construction engineer with the 372nd Engineer Company, uses mortar on the first layer of bricks June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Spc. Michael Wiken, construction engineer with the 372nd Engineer Company, uses mortar on the first layer of bricks June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Pfc. Abel Scott (from left to right), Pfc. Wayne Paliwoda, and Pvt. Michael Culver, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, sift material to make concrete June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Pfc. Abel Scott (from left to right), Pfc. Wayne Paliwoda, and Pvt. Michael Culver, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, sift material to make concrete June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Spc. Jennifer Bartlein (left) and Pfc. Wayne Paliwoda, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, mix concrete June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Spc. Jennifer Bartlein (left) and Pfc. Wayne Paliwoda, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, mix concrete June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Spc. Kevin Schaeffer (left) and Sgt. Richard Fischer, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, mortar the first bricks into place June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Spc. Kevin Schaeffer (left) and Sgt. Richard Fischer, construction engineers with the 372nd Engineer Company, mortar the first bricks into place June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Pvt. Bryan Cornejo, construction engineer with the 372nd Engineer Company, compacts the ground beneath the future site of a new water tower June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Pvt. Bryan Cornejo, construction engineer with the 372nd Engineer Company, compacts the ground beneath the future site of a new water tower June 26 at Santa Librada elementary school in Panama. The Army Reservists are deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission designed to strengthen partnerships between the United States and Panama. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Senior Airman Tiffany Valencia, 820th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron personnel specialist, visits with children in a makeshift classroom at Santa Librada elementary school June 19. The 372nd Engineer Company, and Army Reserve unit deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, will replace classrooms like this with a new school house. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

Senior Airman Tiffany Valencia, 820th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron personnel specialist, visits with children in a makeshift classroom at Santa Librada elementary school June 19. The 372nd Engineer Company, and Army Reserve unit deployed in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, will replace classrooms like this with a new school house. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

METETI, Panama -- Soldiers from the 372nd Engineer Company, part of Task Force New Horizons, laid the first bricks for a new school house at Santa Librada elementary school June 26.

The engineering company is an Army Reserve unit deployed from Pewaukee, Wis., in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission focused on building critical infrastructure and providing medical care to Panamanian citizens at sites around the country.

The current school house was too small to accommodate all students, so makeshift classrooms were erected to provide additional space. The new school house will provide adequate classrooms and administrative areas. The engineer company will also erect a new water tower, build new bathroom facilities, and upgrade the entire electrical system for the school.

"It makes you feel good to know that the sacrifices you make to be part of this mission will have an enduring positive effect on these people's lives," said Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Lindenberg, NCO in charge of the Santa Librada site. "You can see the excitement on the children's and teacher's faces, while we're working, which makes it all worthwhile."

The Santa Librada school is one of six sites selected for the New Horizons mission. In total, four schools and two medical clinics will be improved by a force of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army engineers. The construction is scheduled to last until mid-September. Additionally, five medical teams will deploy for two-week rotations in the towns of Chitre, Veraguas, and David to provide care in the fields of ophthalmology, ear-nose-throat surgery, and dentistry.

Since New Horizons started in the mid-1980's, Airmen and members of U.S. Southern Command have built schools and community centers, dug wells, provided medical care, and constructed clinics year after year at the request of numerous countries in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.

All these missions revolve around USSOUTHCOM's ongoing commitment to theater security cooperation, and are requested by the host nation. By sharing experiences, information, vital skills, tactics, and techniques, the United States continues to build enduring partnerships with nations in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.

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