Festus Guard unit heading to Honduras for humanitarian mission

Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard's Festus-based 220th Engineer Company, shown here working on the Armory motor pool, will be part of a humanitarian mission to Honduras beginning April 14. (Bill Phelan photo)


Bill Phelan

FESTUS, Mo. - Missouri National Guard Soldiers of the Festus-based 220th Engineer Company will be among hundreds of Guardsmen performing a humanitarian mission in Honduras over the next several months.

The 220th is part of the 1140th Engineer Battalion, based in Cape Girardeau, which will send 274 soldiers on the mission, most on a two-week rotating basis. The 220th is slated to be in Honduras April 14-28 as part of the first rotation. Other Missouri Guard units participating include the 1438th Engineer Company, of Macon and the 880th Engineer Team, based in Perryville.

Dubbed Beyond the Horizons, Honduras 2012, the mission will consist of building and renovating two medical clinics and three schools as well as providing medical and dental care to thousands of Hondurans. A similar mission involving Missouri's 35th Engineer Brigade is now taking place in Coban, Guatemala.

Col. Robert Jones, of Cape Girardeau, the Honduran task force commander, said the 220th is uniquely qualified for its role in the mission.

"The 220th will lay the ground work for these new clinics," Jones explained. "The previous buildings were destroyed by a hurricane. The 220th has the heavy equipment for excavation so we can set the foundations of the buildings. Those soldiers have expertise in the use of bulldozers and backhoes."

Jones said the mission, which concludes in July, will also involve the Army Reserve, Navy Seabees, the Air Force, the Honduran ministries of education, defense, and health, Children's International, the Honduran Red Cross and National Guardsmen from 14 states.

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