Cobra Gold 18: Lending A Helping Hand

Story by SSG Justin Silvers on 02/17/2018
The U.S. Soldiers, with the 797th Engineer Company, 9th Mission Support Command, worked alongside their Royal Thai counterparts to build the school during Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. The exercise 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.

Spc. Todd Fedele, an electrician with the 797th Eng. Co., 9th MSC, and a native of Paulding County, Ohio, described the multipurpose building and some of the work process.

"We built a 7.8 meter by 20 meter multipurpose building from the ground up," he said. "The (Royal) Thai soldiers did a majority of the difficult things, the things we couldn't due to safety restrictions, such as going higher up then the third tier. We assisted them with most of the labor on the outside, bringing in the materials, mixing and pouring the concrete, and prefabbing the conduit lines."

Fedele said both the U.S. and Thai Soldiers learned different construction skills working together throughout the project.

"While working together they learned about some of our regulations for electrical; they don't have the same wiring restrictions as we do," said Fedele. "We learned about different mixture ratios they use here for mortar and concrete."

In addition to electrical and mixing ratios, some Soldiers gained other skills during the project. Spc. Bernard Fausto, a native of Nctams, Guam, and a heavy equipment operator with the 797th Eng. Co., 9th MSC, described some of the skills he acquired during his time at the school.

"I learned how to mix proper cement, and how to do welding, which was really new to me," said Fausto. "I also learned a lot of masonry and how to heat up metal, different skills like that."

The multipurpose building is one of many projects during the Cobra Gold 18, and for many U.S. Army Soldiers, it also represents the first time they have worked with soldiers from the Royal Thai Army.

"It was really great working with the Thai Soldiers," said Fausto. "At the beginning we didn't really know each other so we were kind of shy, but as time went by we started to get really close." "I learned a lot from them too. They showed me if I couldn't complete a task one way, that there were other safe ways to do it."

Exercise Cobra Gold 2018 is an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand held from Feb. 13-23 with seven full participating nations.

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