Army Civic Action team departs Palau, Air Force takes on mission
KOROR, Republic of Palau (Aug. 24, 2015) – It was a standing ovation as members of the U.S. Army Civic Action Team (CAT) 84-03 were recognized for their efforts during a change of charge ceremony in the Republic of Palau Aug. 21.
The 554th Red Horse Squadron out of Andersen Air Force Base took over the CAT with a mission to continue the U.S. commitment to assist and support the development of the republic and further positive relations with the people of Palau.
“The U.S. and Republic of Palau have had a strong and long relationship,” Palau’s Minister of State Billy Kuartei said. “They will be here for many more years to come and we will welcome them. Thank you U.S. for your presence here in Palau.”
During their six-month deployment to Palau, the outgoing U.S. Army CAT completed 10 construction projects, supported more than 100 community relations activities and provided medical assistance to more than 1,000 patients.
“The success of the CAT team was a result of the collaboration and cooperation with the community,” Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, U.S. Defense Representative to Palau, said. “You have done an amazing job and will leave your post with a positive and lasting legacy.”
Among those who recognized the dedication of the outgoing CAT was American Ambassador to Palau Amy Hyatt. In front of a crowd of approximately 200 people, she spoke about the soldiers’ desire to leave a positive mark in Palau.
“We can always count on them,” Hyatt said. “The CAT has always been there for us, and we are proud of the work they have done.”
Palau residents adopted many of the outgoing CAT members and welcomed the soldiers into their families. For many of the service members, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to a community they have called home.
“I am forever grateful to the people of Palau,” 1st Lt. Amy Smith, outgoing CAT officer in charge, said. “It was a blessing to have served here in this pristine paradise.”
The incoming CAT team from the U.S. Air Force, which is led by Capt. Naseem Ghandour, is excited to take on the mission. According to Ghandour, the team plans to meet the high standards set by the Army team.
“We want to show the people of Palau what we can do,” he said. “We want to start and get this going. We are very happy to be here.”
During their deployment, the Air Force team will provide construction support to the host nation, assist and train apprentices with general engineering skills, facilitate an in-camp and outreach medical program and conduct community relations projects.