National Guard provides learning facilities for 500 students, receives valuable training
BELLE CHASSE, La. – Louisiana National Guard Airmen from the 159th Fighter Wing have been deploying since April to various cities around Belize building new classrooms for the local children in support of New Horizons 2013.
New Horizons is an annual training exercise for military civil engineers and medical professionals that prepare participants to deploy, conduct joint operations with partner nations and redeploy back to the United States.
“The exercise serves a dual purpose,” said Lt. Col. Milton Addison, 159th CES commander. “It provides the families of Belize with an opportunity for a better education for their children, but also allows our Airmen to get some valuable training.”
These Airmen from the 159th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) deployed on a two-week rotating basis to assist the lead unit in the building of four new schools in separate cities, to include: Ladyville, Crooked Tree, Orange Walk and Hattieville. These new schools will be able to provide learning facilities for approximately 500 students.
“The working relationship with the U.S. military has been really good,” said 2nd Lt. Claudio Quiroz, Troop Commander for the Belize Defence Force and project manager for the new Trial Farm Primary Government School in Orange Walk. “They’re working six-day work weeks, and when the weather was very bad with rain, they still came out to the job. They have great work ethics.”
“This exercise allows for a closer relationship between us and the people of Belize,” said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Favre, an electrician with the 159 CES. “For sure, I would do this again.”
Angie Webb, a mother of two young boys who attend the dilapidated Crooked Tree Government School in the village of Crooked Tree, remarked on how much nicer the area is after the hard work of the Airmen.
“The original school was really old,” said Webb. “My mom and I both went there, and the wood was falling off the sides of the building, and the floors were caving in.”
“When you have a raggedy building in a school yard, it doesn’t give children the initiative to stay in school and take pride in it,” said Mick Webb, Angie’s husband.
The Webb’s wanted to give back to the military so they invited everyone that was working on the Crooked Tree Government School to their family owned lodge (Crooked Tree Lodge) for a lunch they provided. “We wanted to show our deep appreciation for all you are doing for our village,” said Angie.
“Education is paramount,” said Quiroz. “We now will have more classrooms for the students and teachers to enjoy.”
“It’s all about the kids,” said Senior Airman Wilson Quinante, a plumber with the 159th CES, remarking on his mission in Belize.