SILICO CREEK, Panama --
Children laugh and play as they run to the top of the stairs of a playground slide and swiftly go down. With smiles on their faces, they enjoy the swing set, rope ladder and climbing wall under the hot Panamanian sun. Just a few days earlier the spot was a grassy field void of children. With the hard work of Marines and Navy Seabees children now have a safe, fun area to play.
Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion and 2nd Maintenance Battalion with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise 2010 worked side-by-side with Navy Seabees in constructing a playground, building a fence, and providing restroom facilities with a septic tank at Silico Creek School in Silico Creek, Panama, Sept. 28 to Oct. 6, 2010.
Panama is the sixth country that Marines and Seabees have provided construction expertise and labor. They have worked at local schools and facilities that are essential to the daily lives of the community. Their accomplishments include rebuilding roofs, building chain-linked fences, installing several playgrounds at schools, repairing drains and installing restroom facilities and septic tanks, and laying concrete-foundation. The communities of Haiti, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and now Panama have all benefited from the work of the Marines and Seabees joint-team effort.
“It’s a great feeling to see that we’re making a difference for the people of these countries,” said Cpl. John H. Michel from Orlando, Fla., and electrician with 8th Engineer Support Battalion attached to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force CP10. “We built a playground for the children in Panama and as soon as we finished it they were playing on it. I was happy to see that we can make them smile.”
After the Marines and Seabees completed the playground, they built a fence around the school and added restroom facilities with a septic tank. It wasn’t an easy task digging in the dirt for a septic tank approximately five feet in the ground, requiring Marines to get down in the mud and continue digging.
“One of the days when we were out digging a drainage pit and a hole for the septic tank, it started pouring outside and it flooded the holes we were digging,” said Lance Cpl. Frantz Rosemond, from Brooklyn, N.Y., and electrician with 8th ESB. “There was only one way to get the water out and some of the Marines jumped in the water, and we worked as a team to get it all out. It was a dirty job, but we got it done.”
Rain or shine, Marines won’t quit until their job is complete. Marines and Seabees will continue their humanitarian efforts at engineer sites in Guyana and Suriname. CP10 is a humanitarian civic assistance mission, which provides medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services to the locals in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
“Overall, the engineering missions help us build camaraderie, because we work so closely with each other, and we have a good time together,” said Michel. “The people of these countries will remember us by what we built for them, and I hope they will remember that the Marines are here to help them in any way that we can.”
For more information on the Continuing Promise 2010 Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, please visit the unit’s official website at http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndMAW/SPMAGTF.