SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
An opening ceremony at the Juan Ramon Molina grade school in La Florida Marcala, Honduras, marked the official beginning of Beyond the Horizon 08.
Several hundred area residents joined Honduran and U.S. military servicemembers, local and national officials, teachers and students to celebrate the event.
The arrival of distinguished guests and members of the media aboard a Chinook helicopter, from the U.S. Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras, was a highlight for most of the children and citizens, even when its landing blew up a dust storm that sent everyone running for cover.
U.S. Army South public affairs officer, Maj. Deborah Molnar, served as master of ceremonies and introduced Rigoberto Hernandez Villatoro, mayor of Marcala, to give opening remarks.
Mr. Villatoro was followed by Minister of National Defense Arístides Mejía Carranza and the Honorable Charles A. Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, both of whom discussed their hopes for this ambitious multi-national exercise. The festivities closed with a symbolic earth-breaking ceremony, press interviews and a reception for all in attendance featuring soft drinks, cake and locally purchased pastries.
The school in Marcala is one of three that will be renovated during the exercise. U.S. military engineers will also construct one storage shed, two schools, four water towers, and four lavatories throughout rural Honduras.
In other remote areas, joint-forces medical personnel are providing basic dental, optometric and medical care for several hundred Honduran citizens as part of their Medical Readiness Training Exercise and Dental Readiness Training Exercise missions.
Veterinarian Readiness Training Exercises will also occur simultaneously and will treat many animals within the communities.
These projects unofficially began March 31 and will continue until the end of June.