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New Horizons personnel take time to support local school festival

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky
  • New Horizons Panama 2010 Public Affairs
Personnel from New Horizons Panama 2010 took time out of the construction schedule June 24 to support the Conservation Day Festival at the elementary school in Rio Iglesia, one of six sites selected for improvements under the humanitarian assistance mission.

Airmen assigned to the 820th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, and Marines from the 4th Civil Affairs Group started the day by teaching the children how to play classic games like "duck-duck-goose" and "red light, green light." Afterward, everyone marched through the town to support environmental conservation.

"Today was a great day for a great cause," said Gunnery Sgt. Howard Denney, Marine Corps Civil Affairs. "It's incredibly important for the U.S. service members in Panama to support the local towns during the course of our mission here. The children had a great time, and the whole experience was a positive one."

Since New Horizons started in the mid-1980's, Airmen and members of SOUTHCOM 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.

New Horizons Panama 2010 is no different -- scheduled to last 12 weeks, it includes six major construction projects at four schools and two clinics in the vicinity of Meteti in the Darien region of Panama. The exercise also includes five Medical Readiness Training Exercises in the area of David, Chitre, and Veraguas.

"Seeing the smiles on the children's faces reminds me of why we're in Panama," said Capt. Aaron Jackson, 820th ERHS judge advocate. "We're not just building infrastructure, we're building relationships with the Panamanian people."