Pacific Partnership 2015 personnel celebrated the completion of Vura Primary School during a ribbon cutting ceremony July 23 in the Solomon Islands.
Allen Ketei, the principal of Vura Primary School, personally thanked the service members involved in the project for their hard work.
“Because of everything you have done for us, now we can instruct more students and provide them with the resources they need to be successful,” said Ketei. “We could not have completed this without you.”
U.S. Seabees and Marines assigned to Task Force Forager embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) began renovations of the school July 11.
In 12 days the Seabees and Marines put new roofing on a building, poured concrete sidewalks and painted the entire complex. Because of their work, Vura Primary School can now hold up to 450 additional students.
Deputy Prime Minister Douglas Ete praised the Pacific Partnership team, saying they left their mark on the Solomon Islands and his country will not forget what they have done for them.
“Education is very important to the people of the Solomon Islands,” he said. “This kind act will give us a push to put our focus on education.”
The day also held special meaning for the U.S. Marines and Seabees in attendance as they remembered those who went before, fighting on the island 73 years ago during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
“Seventy-three years later, we are not fighting in the Solomon Islands, we are here with great compassion and continue to build for peace with freedom,” said Commodore, Task Force Forager, Capt. James Meyer.
Meyer quoted a famous Seabee inscription which reads, “With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a bit longer.
The engineering team completed the near impossible in two weeks with their work,” he said.
Millinocket and embarked Task Force Forager, led by an expeditionary command element from the Navy’s 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30 NCR) from Port Hueneme, California, are currently serving as the secondary platform for Pacific Partnership 2015. The primary platform for the mission is the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).
Now in its tenth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals. Additionally, the mission has provided critical infrastructure developments to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.
By Sgt. James Gulliver
USMC, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs