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New Horizons Guyana 2009 comes to a close

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker
  • Joint Task Force Guyana Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy servicemembers here have completed New Horizons Guyana 2009, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian event for the benefit of thousands of Guyanese in Georgetown and the outlying areas.

Since late May, a rotating task force of approximately 650 active duty, Reserve and Guard from the Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy constructed one school and one medical clinic, renovated another school and provided medical and dental assistance. The schools now have classrooms and playground equipment and the new clinic has four examination rooms and a waiting room.

Lt. Col. Patrick Keenan said none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the deployed military members.

"Our servicemen and women have done an outstanding job constructing facilities and caring for the health needs of the people of Guyana," said Lt. Col. Patrick Keenan, Joint Task Force New Horizons commander. "More importantly, they have built friendships with our partners here that will leave a lasting impression on the community for years to come."

The New Horizons construction crews working on the Bel Air Nursery School, finished their project two weeks ahead of schedule. The 555th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. and the 910th Civil Engineer Squadron from Youngstown, Ohio not only constructed the school building, but also volunteered their time to play with the children at the local orphanages.

Soldiers from 876th and 878th Engineering Battalions of the Georgia Army National Guard supported the New Horizons mission by constructing a clinic in La Penitence. The clinic, built by 185 Soldiers alongside their counterparts from the Guyana Defense Force, cost $370,000 and will serve the local community's medical needs.

A task force of Airmen on two-week rotations from the 301st Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron at Carswell Field, Texas, renovated Timehri Nursery School for children ages four and five. The crews installed four playground sets, constructed 200 feet of fence, and installed a 400-gallon storage tank with a backup pump so the nursery can have running water, along with many other repairs and paint applied to the building.

"The hard work and goodwill fostered by our servicemembers went above and beyond my expectations," said Colonel Keenan.

The facilities are long-term quality-of-life projects, but the medical missions provided much needed care for the people of Georgetown and outlying areas. Medical teams from the Air Force and Navy Reserve treated more than 18,000 Guyanese in several towns including Corriverton, Timehri and Diamond. The teams provided general medical care and diagnosis, dental check-ups and extractions, eye exams, pharmaceutical prescriptions and public health lessons.

The Reservists came from all around the United States for the medical and dental missions. Air Force medical teams primarily from the 940th Aerospace Medicine Flight at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, treated patients in Georgetown, Corriverton and Timehri. Air Force dental teams from the 59th Dental Group from Lackland, saw patients at Diamond Secondary School in Diamond. The Navy medical team from Operational Health Support Unit-Great Lakes, Ill., one of only two Reserve Field Units in the entire Navy, treated patients in Linden. The leftover medical supplies from the medical missions have been stocked in the newly constructed medical clinics or donated to Guyana's Ministry of Health to continue to help the Guyanese people.

New Horizons ensured the medical clinics and schoolhouses were ready for immediate and long-term use.

New Horizons is a long-running, long-term SOUTHCOM-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The New Horizons projects create a unique opportunity for the U.S. and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine skills of their military's engineers, medical personnel and support staff through quality-of-life activities. For New Horizons Guyana, the Air Force, Marines, Navy and Army worked closely with Guyana's Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, to complete the humanitarian mission.

"New Horizons is just an example of our steadfast commitment to continued cooperation and teamwork with our partner nations throughout South America," said Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Artis Weaver, Senior Enlisted Advisor, 474th Air Expeditionary Group, Det. 4. "We've created some strong bonds through teamwork and friendships that we'll always remember."

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