PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines — U.S. and Philippine service members completed the Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects at the Concepcion and Binduyan elementary schools Oct. 8 in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, in support of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015.
“PHIBLEX was a success because everything we came out here to do we accomplished before our timeline,” said Gunnery Sgt. Luis Respardo, a platoon sergeant with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The HCA projects consisted of building walkways, overhangs and multipurpose concrete areas. These were designed to benefit the schools in various ways according to Respardo. The U.S. Marines worked constantly with the Philippine Navy Seabees to complete the projects.
“They were working late and were constantly tired,” said Respardo. “The weather affected us severely because it rained a lot while we were working with concrete. Despite the fact they don’t mix we accomplished the mission.”
The school appreciates their effort, according to Rolly Vadelas, the head teacher at Concepcion Elementary School.
“This project is helpful to our school because we can have our education programs here at the school instead of having programs at the Barangay covered gym,” said Vadelas.
Even though the workload was strenuous, that’s not what made the exercise unique for the unit, according to Capt. Kyle McCarley, company commander of 9th ESB.
“The school is in session. You can see that many of the students have built relationships with the Marines and the seabees that worked on the project,” said McCarley, from Thousand Oaks, California. “Having the children in the schools watching the Marines and Seabees work has strengthened the project. It will definitely leave a lasting impact on the children.”
As PHIBLEX 15 comes to an end, the Marines reflect on their experiences and hope for more like them in the future, according to McCarley.
“I would jump on the opportunity to come back to a follow on PHIBLEX,” said McCarley. “This has been a phenomenal experience to watch my Marines develop their Marine Corps profession, to work hand-in-hand with the Philippine seabees and to watch them build something from the ground up. It’s also a humbling experience to see them build something that will benefit these schools for years to come.”