The US Navy ship, USS Gunston Hall, has been in Belizean waters since February twenty-fifth. Aside from carrying on joint exercises with the Belize Defence Force and the Coast Guard, the US sailors are engaged in community work. On Tuesday, they gave a facelift to the Ladyville Health Centre and today News Five’s Delahnie Bain caught up with them as they worked on the Liberty Orphanage in Ladyville.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
Sailors and marines from the U.S. Navy are in Belize as part of an annual U.S. Southern Command Southern Partnership Station exercise. It’s an exchange program where the military offers voluntary services and benefit from jungle training in different countries.
Lt. Jeff Augustine, USS Gunston Hall
“The visit to Belize really has three components to it; it’s part of the ASPS work in the area where our military is connecting with your military to do subject matter expert exchanges. Also we’re here to take in as much culture as we possibly can through tours and a third component is to do some of these ComRels. It’s really about trying to build good relationships with the Belize government.”
According to Lieutenant Jeff Augustine, the community work is focused in the Ladyville area.
Lt. Jeff Augustine
“Yesterday was at the Ladyville clinic, we painted the outside of the building. We finished that project. We’re at the Liberty Orphanage today and we’ll be here for the next two days and we can have a hundred people here and still have more work to do. Our goal today is to paint these buildings; this building in particular to get done. We’re digging a drainage ditch and we’re building a concrete forms to cap some of these water holes in the back; there’s about sixteen of them.”
The soldiers say working onshore has been a refreshing change of scenery and most of them have taken time to just be tourists.
Corporal Randy Dube, Marine, USS Gunston Hall
“We’ve had a good time, had a couple chances to do some trips and the zipline and comrels like this, community relations, and experience different parts of the culture.”
“Do you also get to participate in the training that’s going on at Price Barracks?”
Corporal Randy Dube
“I’m not, myself but a lot of my fellow marines are. And we’ve completed the training in the subject matter exchange in different countries; Colombia and Guatemala as well. So it’s been worthy for both the people we’re helping and the people are helping us learn about jungle warfare and this type of environment.”
2nd Class Petty Officer Theo Beasley, Sailor, USS Gunston Hall
“We’ve had a fantastic time in Belize. We anchored out and I’ve been looking forward to the chance to come ashore and everything’s gone smoothly so far and everyone that’s here is happy to be here. The work off the ship, to come do a project like this is amazing. It’s really great to get out in the community and meet people and experience life in a different country for at least a few hours.”
Lt. Jeff Augustine
“They have loads of tours going out so there’s a lot of people on ship now taking advantage of the Mayan Ruin tours, zip-lining, cave tubing and of course the restaurants. Yeah a lot of people have been able to do that. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful country.”
Approximately one hundred and fifty military personnel arrived on the USS Gunston Hall. Delahnie Bain for News Five.
This Friday, the navy personnel will head to the ValGarten Primary School in Price Barracks. They sail away on March eighth.