By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee, 52 Fighter Wing Public Affairs, and NMCB 3 Public Affairs
A U.S. Navy Seabee tosses planks of wood into a pile during the renovation process of Bijelo-Potoci Primary School in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 31. Seventeen Navy Seabees deployed to Capljina and members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina military are working together to renovate schools in the area in support of Exercise Shared Resilience 2012, a two-week U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sponsored medical exercise.
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 worked with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian (BIH) military to build a fence around the military complex, and renovate a neighboring city’s school and school annex in support of Exercise Shared Resilience 2012 (SR12), Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 28 – June 8.
NMCB 3 has been working in Bosnia-Herzegovina since April 25 to prepare the military compound’s fence to meet force protection requirements for the participants of SR12.
Since the two nations’ construction teams have different building methods, the Seabees observed how the host nation performed construction, worked past the language barriers and integrated as a joint construction team. The renovated school houses students from kindergarten to eighth grade; the annex is for kindergarten to fourth grade.
“These schools have been here a while,” said Utilitiesman 1st Class James Marquez, NMCB 3 “There have been generations and generations of students going through these two buildings, and it feels good to know that I’ve been part of the team to make this a better place.”
“We had a chance to help the civilian populace,” said Bosnian-Herzegovinian Army Brig. Gen. Ivica Jerkic, SR12 co-director. “In the future, we’re going to continue our efforts to do so.”
The reason for the assured success of the construction projects is the cooperation between the U.S. and Bosnian-Herzegovinian militaries, said Chief Builder James Davenport, assistant officer-in-charge. The 1.3-mile security fence will be completed well ahead of schedule due to partnership efforts with the host BIH Army.
“We are here to build trust through cooperation on this project,” said BUC Davenport. “We are the lead on the project but they have a part in it as well. Once we started working together, the Bosnians-Herzegovinians had a vested interest — a personal pride in their accomplishments. It’s no longer separated when we are on the project site, but integrated throughout. We’re working together to build better schools for the children.”
“It was amazing to see the motivation by the Seabees,” said Bosnian-Herzegovinian Army Sgt. Jozef Ambruz, project crew leader and translator. “It’s not about a fence; it’s about bigger stuff. The U.S. Navy Seabees showed us trust and respected us as equals on this project, and that’s how we became a united team set on completing a goal for many nations coming here.”