By Staff Sgt. Justin Silvers, III Marine Expeditionary Force
KORAT, THAILAND --
Military service members from the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States, China, school educators, and members of the local community gathered together to see the official opening of a newly constructed building, during a ceremony Feb. 22, 2018 in Korat, Kingdom of Thailand. The multi-purpose building was built at Nongphipadungkitwittaya School during Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. Cobra Gold 18 maintains a consistent focus on Humanitarian Civic Assistance, community engagement, and medical activities conducted during the exercise to support the needs and humanitarian interests of civilian populations around the region.
The building was constructed by Royal Thai Army Soldiers from the 3rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army Soldiers from the 411th Engineer Battalion, 9th Mission Support Command, and Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Soldiers from the 74th Group Army, and was one of six Engineering Civic Assistance Projects during the exercise. The building is planned to be used for student education as well as other community activities.
The ceremony began with groups of students from Nongphipadungkitwittaya School performing dances on stage called Kissadapiniharn, and Chab Krab. Following the dances, the students
presented silk scarves to commanders and service members as a gesture welcoming them to the Kingdom of Thailand. After being presented the scarves, service members from the Royal Thai Army, United States Army, and People’s Liberation Army, and the Director of the Office of Nakhonratchasima Primary - Educational Service Area 3 spoke to the community and service members in attendance.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Henry L. Tennant, commander of the 411th Engineer Battalion, spoke on behalf of the U.S. Army engineers involved in the project.
“It is an honor to be here today, to express (our) gratitude for sharing time with us today at this dedication ceremony,” said Tennant. “There was a great deal of camaraderie during the construction; the locals, the Royal Thai Army, the U.S. Army, and the People’s Liberation Army working together to complete the same goal, this memorable building. They worked side by side as they learned and exchanged ideas and techniques. They laughed, joked, and really got to bond with each other. This experience will always be embedded in their minds and hearts, and I hope you all feel the same way.
We don’t want to say this is a goodbye, but rather as the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”
Following their speeches, Tennant and other commanders in attendance toured the building, while Phratham Worranayok, Provincial Primate Advisor of Nakhon Ratchasima and a Buddist Monk, blessed the building. Upon exiting the building, commanders stopped at designated trees in front of the multi-purpose building, and together with students, helped pour soil over the trees. The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the building’s sign, officially opening the building up to the community.
Exercise Cobra Gold 2018 is an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand held from Feb. 13-23 with seven full participating nations.