By EO3 Alexander Balaoing, NMCB 4
Ms. Dan Mom, director, Kamkor Primary School, places a “krama” on Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, commanding officer, NMCB 4, as a sign of appreciation during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Jan. 12, for the work NMCB 4 CCAD Cambodia performed for her school in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Photos by EO3 Alexander Balaoing
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) Cambodia held ribbon-cutting ceremonies, Jan. 12, to mark the completion of two bathroom facilities for local schools in Sihanoukville, the final tasked projects of their deployment.
The ceremonies recognized three months of successful joint operations between the Seabees and Army Engineers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in support of U.S. Embassy and USAID initiatives to improve sanitation conditions across Cambodia. Distinguished guests in attendance included Col. Craig Tippins, senior defense official, U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh; Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, commanding officer, NMCB 4; and local government and military officials.
Guests and distinguished visitors show respect by standing for the Cambodian National Anthem during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kamkor Primary School, Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Jan. 12. The ceremony marked the turnover of a five-stall head facility for 1,000 students completed by NMCB 4 CCAD Cambodia in support of U.S. Embassy and USAID initiatives to improve sanitation conditions in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The day began with a ceremony at Kamkor Primary School where the students and teachers welcomed both crews with an outpouring of gratitude. The school’s director greeted each Seabee and RCAF engineer, and presented them with a traditional Cambodian scarf known as a “krama” as a token of appreciation. Guest speakers lauded the combined accomplishments of the military engineers and the substantial impact the facility will make to the school.
Ms. Dan Mom, director of Kamkor Primary, remarked that the new facility will improve the school’s sanitary conditions and the quality of life for 1,000 students.
“I would like to thank the American engineers for their construction efforts and the great addition it will make to Kamkor Primary School,” said Mom. “It will be used and appreciated by students for years to come.”
Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, commanding officer, NMCB 4, cuts the ribbon to open a new facility built by NMCB 4 CCAD Cambodia for Prek Thnot High School in Kampot, Cambodia, Jan. 12.
After the first event, the teams traveled to nearby Kampot Province to conduct a similar ceremony for a five-stall bathroom facility at Prek Thnot High School.
The RCAF engineers, many with children of their own at schools similar to Prek Thnot High School, expressed a deep personal interest and joy in the event and the impact it would have on the lives of fellow Cambodians.
“Mere words could not fully express the feelings of gratitude and absolute appreciation I see today in the students and their teachers,” said Lt. Chan That Nou Sarun, officer-in-charge of the RCAF team. “They recognize sanitation as an important part of education and healthy living and that will help our students and all our youth learn good hygiene practices, thus preventing the further spread of diseases.”
During the remarks, Mr. Tan Hap, chief of Kampot Ministry of Education, promised to maintain the new facility and asked for the continued support of Kampot schools and institutions.
“I request all students and staff to look after this facility to ensure that it lasts a long time.” said Hap. “And we hope the generous people of America will continue to help Prek Thnot High School and the Kampot Province.”
Lengkeek summed up the day’s events and the Seabees’ efforts in Cambodia.
“I know this facility will serve the school and the children here for many years to come,” said Lengkeek. “And I look forward to continuing the rich partnership we have with the people of Cambodia and the Armed Forces of Cambodia.
The day concluded with awards and gift exchanges between the Seabee and RCAF crews to mark the completion of their three-month partnership. Each RCAF engineer received a certificate of appreciation from Lt. Col. Joel Buenaflor, chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. The gifts, a detail T-shirt from the Seabees and a military warfare device from the RCAF engineers, were a reflection of the strong relationships formed between the partnered engineering units.
These projects concluded NMCB 4 Detail Cambodia’s efforts during deployment, but the reputation that has been built in the community will be carried into future cooperative endeavors.
Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, commanding officer, NMCB 4, receives a certificate of appreciation from Mr. Keo Lay, chief, Sihanoukville Province Ministry of Education, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kamkor Primary School, Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Jan. 12.