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Groundbreaking Ceremony Signals Official Start of NEW HORIZONS Honduras 2015 Training Exercise

  • Published
  • By Capt. David J. Murphy
  • 1st Combat Camera Squadron
A groundbreaking ceremony June 1, 2015, at the site of Gabriela Mistral primary school in Ocotes Alto, Honduras, helped signify the start of the New Horizons Honduras 2015 training exercise.

School, local and Honduran Army leadership, in addition to New Horizons members and Gabriela Mistral students were in attendance to witness the groundbreaking and hear from Lt. Col. Ryan Elliott, New Horizons task force commander and 823rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers Squadron deputy commander, and Abraham Ruiz, Gabriela Mistral principal.

"We are very excited to be part of this project at the Gabriela Mistral school," Elliott said, "and we hope that we are able to make an important difference for the students and staff here at the school."

The school will be a 1408 square-foot facility featuring two classrooms able to hold 30 students each and two bathrooms with running water. The working plumbing is a big change for the school whose current bathrooms are a series of outhouses.

"With the new bathrooms and the new school facilities everything will be more attractive, more hygienic and more comfortable for the students," said Ruiz. "This will most likely mean that the students will be more interested and excited about coming to school and more happy to learn, and that's a great advance for the school."

As part of the groundbreaking ceremony Gabriela Mistral students performed three different dance routines, each with a different style.

"It was great to see the kids get out here" said Elliott "I think the students enjoyed it, I think the community came out and enjoyed it, I think the representatives from the city and local government enjoyed it. It was a great event."

The new school building is a joint effort between Airmen of the 823rd Expeditionary RHS out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Marines from the 271st Marine Wing Support Squadron, 2nd Marine Air Wing, out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

"With these new rooms and these new bathrooms the students will be able to learn much better, everything will be more hygienic, and the school will be better prepared to educate children," said sixth grader Laricsa Reyes, 11. "Thank you to the government of the United States from the very bottom of my heart, we appreciate it very much."

The school site is just one of a few projects the more than 100 New Horizons personnel, which includes members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, will take on throughout the duration of the exercise. The RED HORSE Airmen will also drill a well in Honduras Aguán to support more than 6,000 people with clean drinking water while medical teams working with the Honduran Ministry of Health will support a vector-borne disease surveillance program in Tocoa and general surgery mission in Trujillo.

"We are proud to be here to work with the Honduran people and look forward to not just building structures, but building long-lasting relationships, excellent friendships and strong partnerships," said Elliott.