National Guard and Reserve soldiers from Missouri, Minnesota, Florida, Tennessee and Texas spent weeks building a school in Micheletti, Honduras, as part of Beyond the Horizon-2012. U.S. Army South's Beyond the Horizon 2012-Honduras mission is a partnership with Honduras, which is working to provide medical, engineering and civic assistance for overall humanitarian assistance.
By 1st Lt. John Quin
MICHELETTI, Honduras - In the small town of Micheletti, Honduras, children have to walk 35 minutes through searing heat and driving rain to get to school - but soon, thanks to the National Guard, Army Reserve and U.S. Army South, that will just be a story they tell their grandchildren.
Soldiers from the Missouri National Guard's 880th Engineer Team, based in Perryville, are currently putting the finishing touches on the project, which is the result of weeks of work by Guard and Reserve units from Texas, Minnesota, Florida and Tennessee, said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Vitale, the site supervisor.
"It's been great," said Vitale, who lives in Belleville, Ill. "You learn the different personalities of different groups."
The project is part of U.S. Army South-sponsored Beyond the Horizon 2012 mission. The Honduras mission is being run by the Missouri National Guard, but draws Guard and Reserve units from across the U.S. In addition to the schoolhouse at Micheletti, the mission has engaged in a number of construction and medical outreach projects as part of an ongoing partnership with Honduras.
In Micheletti, the residents' appreciation for the Guardsmen was evident.
"The people are great," Vitale said. "They are here, every day, they cook us lunch, and are very thankful. It's a very small town."
The schoolhouse might be located in Honduras, but the hands that built it are from across the U.S., Vitale said. Soldiers from Missouri, Florida and Tennessee did the early groundwork, clearing out the area, laying the base and putting up walls.
"They told me those walls can withstand a Category 5 hurricane," Vitale said.
Soldiers from Texas put on the building's roof. Minnesotans worked on the electric. Now, Missourians have arrived to finish the job and clean up the site.
The schoolhouse is slated to be finished June 30, but as long as supplies arrive on time, the building may be complete a little ahead of schedule, said Staff Sgt. Dustin Rolens, of Perryville. Rolens, who did a similar mission in Guatemala, said that construction is different from the 880th's usual missions, but that the team is up to the challenge.
"We have a couple guys who are construction workers and bricklayers, and you can tell," Rolens said. "It helps a lot. Training is the biggest thing - if you don't know how to do something, you can just ask someone."
The overall Beyond the Horizon-Honduras mission is scheduled to end in early July.
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Soldiers from the 880th Engineer Team, including Pfc. Samantha Radford of Hillsboro, Mo., work towards completing a schoolhouse in Micheletti, Honduras, June 25. The soldiers are building the schoolhouse as part of U.S. Army South's Beyond the Horizon 2012-Honduras mission, a partnership with Honduras, which is working to provide medical, engineering and civic assistance for overall humanitarian assistance.