EL COCO, El Salvador – It was Christmas in spring for hundreds of
school children on April 30, 2015 ... as kids and parents alike
turned out for a community relations event put on by a combination
of U.S. service members and aviators of the Salvadoran air force as
part of Beyond the Horizon 2015.
BTH 15 is a humanitarian and
civic assistance mission designed to help build schools, clinics and
provide medical aid for the people of El Salvador.
Salvadoran service members delivered school supplies, candy and pen
pal letters while giving their personal thanks to the people of El
Coco for the use of their school for a medical readiness training
exercise two weeks prior.
Children and parents turned out in droves to view a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on display as part of a community relations event where U.S. and Salvadoran military handed out school supplies and candy
on April 30, 2015 as part of Beyond the Horizon 2015. BTH 15 is a humanitarian and civic assistance mission designed to help build schools, clinics and to provide medical care for the people of El Salvador. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Rognstad)
“We just wanted to thank everyone here for their
participation in our MEDRETE we had here not too long ago,”
said Maj. Jose Reyes of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion,
149th General Support Aviation Battalion out of San Antonio
with the Texas Army National Guard. “It's been our privilege
to help them out.”
The MEDRETE helped some 6,200
patients of the surrounding community with medical checkups
Reyes delivered 20 hand-written and
colored cards from his daughter's first grade class to the
kids of El Coco's grade school, Centro Escolar Hacienda.
Jose Almica, the school's director, accepted the cards
and was grateful for the school supplies.
“This is a
special and unusual day for our school as you can tell by
the turnout,” Almica said. “Thank you for your kind
donations and also for the help you're providing
specifically to communities in need.”
The 149th also
let the students of Centro Escolar Hacienda sit and strap
into seats onboard a UH-60 Black Hawk. More than 120 kids
took turns sampling the confines of the Army's primary
Marine Sgt. Brian Hernandez of
the 4th Civil Affairs Group out of Miami helped kids manage
their way around the Black Hawk.
“This was more of a
hearts and minds type event to show that we're here to help
to bring the community together to improve their lives
through our efforts,” Hernandez said.
Even more kids
with parents in tow, lined up for candy, pencils and various
military promotional items outside the school.
kids looked like they were having a lot of fun,” said Spc.
James LeBlanc a flight medic with the 149th from Willow
Park, Texas. “It's not everyday you get to interact with
someone from another country. Being able to meet the
teachers and the educators here; it was just a good
opportunity to interact with people I wouldn't have
Maj. Alan Colley, commander of the civil
affairs team for BTH 15, stressed the importance of the
multinational partnership that comprises BTH in assistance
to the people of El Salvador.
“For us to come down
here and help with their medical, construction and civil
affairs capacities, we are providing vital services
necessary to the growth of this country,” said Colley. “This
is a multinational effort in support of a valued partner
that has been overseas with us in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Rognstad
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