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New Horizons – Nicaragua 2007 closes out with ceremony

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacque Lickteig
  • New Horizons - Nicaragua Public Affairs
Nicaragua 2007, a $7.5 million humanitarian and training exercise, officially ended April 27 with a closing ceremony here, but the strengthened friendship between the United States and Nicaragua has not.

"We will cherish the friendships we've made here in Nicaragua," Lt. Col. Aaron Young, commander of the mission's task force, said during the ceremony.

Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo presided the event in which U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli, 12th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, Santa Teresa Mayor Cristobal Conrado Portobanco and Colonel Young also offered comments. During the ceremony, leaders from the United States and Nicaragua exchanged expressions of appreciation and offered insight to the mission's accomplishments, and the Nicaraguans shared their culture through two dance performances.

New Horizons - Nicaragua 2007 was a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored mission that Airmen, Soldiers and Marines from about 10 units carried out under the 820th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Readiness Squadron Engineer Squadron's lead.

Those military members worked alongside the Nicaraguan army and Nicaraguan doctors, veterinarians, policemen and heavy equipment operators to build a three-room school in San Martin de La Calera and a five-room medical clinic in Buena Vista and to medically treat more than 20,000 Nicaraguans during the mission's three Medical Readiness Training Exercises, General Seip said.

"This was truly a team effort," the general said. "Over 250 U.S. military personnel worked hand-in-hand with Nicaraguan defense forces and civilian personnel to accomplish some great things."

On top of the scheduled mission objectives, members attached to the 820th ERHS repaired more than 44 miles of dilapidated roads, drilled two water wells and fixed another well. They also collected and donated about $500 and more than 100 books and toys to two local orphanages.

"We're certain the help that the U.S. military has provided has been a blessing to our town," Mr. Conrado said.

In the ceremony, children from one of the orphanages, ABC Feed the Children, sang a song of friendship as a thanks and a farewell to the U.S. military members who attended.

"New Horizons missions are only part of a broad range of activities that Air Forces Southern and USSOUTHCOM carry out in Latin America and the Caribbean. USSOUTHCOM's Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen also take part in professional and educational exchanges with the security forces of our Latin American partners, join in multinational and bi-lateral cooperative exercises and operations that help defeat international threats, improve opportunities for the people of the region, promote stability and economic development, and strengthen the institutions of the region's sovereign democracies," 12th AF's Deputy Chief of Public Affairs 1st Lt. Christina Mundy said.