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820th Red Horse starts 'New Horizons' project in Nicaragua

SANTA TERESA, Nicaragua -- The opening ceremony for New Horizons Nicaragua was held here Feb. 15, marking a new beginning for the citizens of this small village in the Carazo District. New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored readiness training exercise.

The town will now have a new school and medical clinic, thanks to the work of 58 members of the 820th Red Horse Squadron deployed here from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The 820th is the lead unit for this project, but people from the Army, Marine Corps and reserve components also will play a large role in construction and base support.

"Our mission is about our friends, the people of Nicaragua," said Lt. Col. Aaron Young, commander of the 820th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron, during the opening ceremony near the town square. "We have continually experienced the hospitalities of Nicaragua, and I'd like to thank everyone for the warm welcome."

One of the objectives of New Horizons is to establish and nurture relationships with host nation counterparts in order to develop trust and confidence, pursue mutually beneficial programs, and assist them in developing military forces that support democratic institutions.

These projects also provide realistic joint and combined training for military engineers, medical personnel and support troops.

Master Sgt. Adam DeLeon is the project liaison who is deployed to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. He is responsible for coordinating supplies and support to his unit, some 350 miles away.

"I've made about three road trips to deliver MREs, sand bags, and even two AAFES employees," he said. "It's very mountainous in Honduras, but when you get into Managua (Nicaragua), it starts to level out," he said regarding the 10-hour road trip.

Sergeant DeLeon said the entire team is proud of the work they're able to do here, noting that they will make a difference in the lives of these people.

"We're making a huge impact," he said. "For Red Horse, that's our business, we do full-up construction. Once we leave Nicaragua, we'll definitely impact the community and leave permanent structures that will benefit them for many years to come. Everybody is proud of being able to contribute and work together."

Working with the locals also is an important aspect of the mission, said Sergeant DeLeon, adding that there are "quite a few" bilingual people on the team.

"You do bring bilinguals with you, for purchasing items downtown and working with contracts."

The construction crews will pour the foundation for the school house first. They also will contract to dig a well, providing fresh water for the town.

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