Missouri Guardsmen build schools, hospitals in Guatemala

Lt. Col. John Findley (far left)--click for more photos


By Capt. Michelle Matthews

COBAN, Guatemala -Missouri National Guard Soldiers are currently deployed to Guatemala in support of the Beyond the Horizon 2012 exercise.

The Missouri Army National Guard effort is commanded by Task Force-Arriero, which is lead by Lt. Col. John Findley, of Eldon, Mo., and Master Sgt. Russell Kempker, of Marys Home. Both are Soldiers assigned to the 35th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Leonard Wood.

Task Force-Arriero will lead the construction efforts and humanitarian medical missions for multiple areas in Guatemala. The plan is to build two new clinics and a school, and to renovate two schools and a maternity clinic.

"It's all about helping the people in the communities we are working in," said Kempker. "By building schools and clinics in their community we will help more children and their families. This is my first time in Guatemala and it has been an enjoyable experience."

In addition to the construction projects, four medical assistance projects are scheduled to take place in San Marcos, Cubilguitz, Pocola and El Rancho. U.S. military doctors, nurses and medics will assist local doctors with medical screenings.

Beyond the Horizon is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-conducted joint military and humanitarian exercise. This deployment is the first of its kind for many of the Missouri National Guard Soldiers and they are learning how to work with the host nation citizens and the Guatemalan army.

"It is a new experience for me," said Staff Sgt. Sherryl Burrus, a Task Force-Arriero administrative noncommissioned officer in charge from Edgar Springs. "I have not deployed for a humanitarian assistance mission like this. I am glad we are here to support this community and country."

The Missouri National Guard will remain in Guatemala until mid-July when the construction projects and medical readiness missions will conclude.

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