WATKHUNSONG, Thailand – Royal Thai Marine Corps and U.S. Marine Corps service members worked together on the construction of a single-room multi-purpose educational building Jan. 23 at Watkhunsong, Chanthaburi, Thailand, before the official start of Exercise Cobra Gold 2016.
The construction at Watkhungsong began Jan 23 after the pole dedication ceremony.
“It is great working with the Thais, they work real hard and have pretty efficient means of doing things” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Ivy Chamness, site officer-in-charge, humanitarian civic action site 2, Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force. “The village elders and principals, everyone on down to the teachers and the students and some of the parents are all really extremely appreciative of us being here,” said Chamness, a Shelbyville, Kentucky native.
The construction at Watkhunsong is one of six HCA sites in which the Thai, U.S. and partner nation’s militaries will work together on HCA programs to support security and humanitarian interests of friends and partner nations. The programs will improve the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare of civilian residents in the exercise areas.
“I think it’s an amazing experience and to see how little they [the Thais] have and being able to come up with how they do things by using what they have,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Cami Snider, metal worker, Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Cobra Gold is the largest multinational exercise in Asia and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.
The Thai Navy feels honored and proud to coordinate with U.S. service members for Cobra Gold in that we can develop things for Thai civilians such as the building at this HCA site for the local school, said Royal Thai Marine Corps Lt. Nonthagorn Meenon, with Engineer Battalion, Marine Division, Royal Thai Navy.
This year, Cobra Gold will emphasize coordination on civic action, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with the aim of expanding regional cooperation and collaboration in these vital areas.
Story by Staff Sgt. Jose O. Nava