DEMIR KAPIJA, Macedonia - This month Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, Detail Macedonia, will complete a humanitarian and civic assistance mission in Demir Kapija, Macedonia, supporting Medical Training Exercise in Eastern Europe 11.
When the 22 Seabees arrived in Demir Kapija, one of the two buildings that comprise the primary school was all but abandoned, and the community’s only fire truck was parked alongside the road. Since April 18, the detail has been working to rehabilitate the school building to provide five additional classrooms. They are also constructing a fire safety vehicle garage to store the fire truck.
“When we arrived, the school was teaching in two shifts, morning and afternoon, due to lack of classroom space,” said Chief Petty Officer James Blue, construction electrician, Detail Macedonia, operations officer. “Once the renovations are complete, it will allow more students to attend school at one time, and more classrooms will give the teachers an opportunity to get an earlier start and early finish.”
According to Demir Kapija’s director of public services, Zvonko Kuchukov, the new, centrally located garage will allow quicker access to the community in the case of an emergency and free up space to build a park for the children next to the building.
MEDCEUR is an annual regional/multilateral exercise, which provides training and operational experience to medical personnel from partner nations. It also validates the readiness status of U.S. Air Force Europe’s expeditionary medical support through humanitarian assistance, disaster response and execution of foreign consequence management plans.
NMCB 74’s projects were chosen to support the humanitarian aspect of MEDCEUR 11, and community leaders expressed their appreciation for the work being done.
“I am very grateful to the Seabees for helping our community. It is our children who will benefit the most, and that means a lot to us,” said school director Robert Robertson.
By providing a new facility for education, the Seabees’ work will likely impact the community for generations.
“Our work here will have a lasting impact on the community of Demir Kapija. Until our renovation project the structure we rehabilitated was in poor shape. This coming school year the young children will attend school in a brand new building,” said Lt. Jacob Segalla, Detail Macedonia officer-in-charge.
Blue expressed the crew’s appreciation for the opportunity to be part of such a meaningful mission. He said that it was the experience of a lifetime and if asked to do it again he would not hesitate. Segalla was in agreement.
“I always enjoy working on HCA projects and find them extremely rewarding. They add a human factor to the construction projects that we typically execute in the Seabees. In HCA it is easy to see the impact of your labors and how much those efforts mean to the local populace,” said Segalla. “Winning hearts and minds, or shrinking the battle space are great concepts, but it’s the friends we make and the experiences we share with folks that we never would have otherwise met that means the most to those involved in such projects.”