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Seabees, Marines Wrap Up Humanitarian Mission in Haiti

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A team of 17 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 and five U.S. Marines from the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C., wrapped up a five-month humanitarian assistance mission with a final project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Aug. 29.

The group was part of Continuing Promise 2011, a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to Central and South America and the Caribbean Basin. The Seabees and Marines embarked aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in April 2011 and worked side-by-side with host nation militaries, police and civilians during engineering projects in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru before arriving in Haiti Aug. 18.

"My team's impact will not only be from the actual work done, but also with their presence and interaction with the host nationals," said Ensign Tres Moreno, NMCB 28 officer-in-charge. "Since the start of this mission, the Seabees have built partnerships in each country and Haiti is no different."

During the 12-day mission stop in Port-au-Prince, the Seabees and Marines completed electrical and plumbing work and installed storm grates at the Killick Coast Guard Base. They also constructed a barbed wire and concertina wire perimeter fence at Esaie Jeanty Hospital. At the hospital, the team was part of a joint engineering project supported by the Chilean and Paraguayan military engineering forces with force protection provided by the Brazilian army.

"It was such an amazing experience working with these international forces," said Moreno. "It was the exchange of skills, ideas and laughter. The final product was outstanding, more than the hospital director even imagined, resulting in more security for the hospital."

Throughout the five-month CP11 mission, the team of Seabees and Marines completed many other projects, including building classrooms from the ground up, replacing roofs, repairing plumbing, remodeling a medical clinic and installing nets on a basketball court outside of a school.

"Being a Marine, I'm very excited to have been a part of this mission because we don't normally get to do this type of work," said Cpl. Joe Everetts, from Xenia, Ohio. "Having the opportunity to do humanitarian work has been both a humbling and rewarding experience."

The projects the team has completed during the five-month deployment should improve the lives of many people and last for years to come. The relationships they have built and the memories they've made will last a lifetime.

"For me, I think the most rewarding part of this entire mission will come in a few months when I look back on all the places we've been and all the people we've met," said Equipment Operator 2nd Class James Owen, from Mobile, Ala. "I feel honored to have had the opportunity to help these people and be a part of their lives."

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Article by Air Force Staff Sgt. Alesia D. Goosic, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs