With the Army National Guard in Mongolia (Part 1)

The Mongolian Presidential Honor Guard Band performs during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2008 at Camp Five Hills, Mongolia. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Jules Barklow.

The Mongolian Presidential Honor Guard Band performs during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2008 at Camp Five Hills, Mongolia. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Jules Barklow.

Mongolian children from Alton Bulaag enter the lower level of their school dormatory. Members of the 871st Engineering Battalion, Wailuku, Hawaii, are there performing renovations during Khaan Quest 2008 conducted on Camp Five Hills.
US Air Force Photo by Master Sergeant Jules Barklow

Mongolian children from Alton Bulaag enter the lower level of their school dormatory. Members of the 871st Engineering Battalion, Wailuku, Hawaii, are there performing renovations during Khaan Quest 2008 conducted on Camp Five Hills. US Air Force Photo by Master Sergeant Jules Barklow

Soldiers from Thailand army rehearse peace keeping exercises with Mongolian role players during the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow.

Soldiers from Thailand army rehearse peace keeping exercises with Mongolian role players during the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow.

Soldiers from Thailand rehearse peace-keeping exercises with Mongolian role players during the field-training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow

Soldiers from Thailand rehearse peace-keeping exercises with Mongolian role players during the field-training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow

Staff Sergeant Lawrence Pinheiro, carpenter, and Sergeant Joey Fernandez, carpenter, amidst a cloud of dust in the school dormitory in Alton Bulaag, Mongolia, where a renovation project by the 871st Engineering Battalion, Wailuku, Hawaii is underway. The local school dormitory had last been renovated in 1961. The Army Guard plumbers, electricians, masons and carpenters began overhauling windows, doors, paint and flooring on Sept. 4, 2008, with a deadline for completion of Sept. 21. They renovations were part of the field-training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Jules Barklow.

Staff Sergeant Lawrence Pinheiro, carpenter, and Sergeant Joey Fernandez, carpenter, amidst a cloud of dust in the school dormitory in Alton Bulaag, Mongolia, where a renovation project by the 871st Engineering Battalion, Wailuku, Hawaii is underway. The local school dormitory had last been renovated in 1961. The Army Guard plumbers, electricians, masons and carpenters began overhauling windows, doors, paint and flooring on Sept. 4, 2008, with a deadline for completion of Sept. 21. They renovations were part of the field-training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise in Mongolia at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Jules Barklow.

Lieutenant Daniel Simmons, of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 871st Engineering Battalion (Wailuku, Hawaii), receives a check of his lungs from Major Corinne Olivera, a physician's assistant with the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group at Alton Bulaag, Mongolia during the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow.

Lieutenant Daniel Simmons, of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 871st Engineering Battalion (Wailuku, Hawaii), receives a check of his lungs from Major Corinne Olivera, a physician's assistant with the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group at Alton Bulaag, Mongolia during the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt Jules Barklow.

Mongolian Army medical personnel react to a real-world scenario when one of their medics fainted prior to a mock casualty scenario with Alaska Army National Guard. The training utilized the Mongolians' new Expeditionary Medical System (EMEDS) at the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Alaska Air National Guard Photo by MSgt Jules Barklow

Mongolian Army medical personnel react to a real-world scenario when one of their medics fainted prior to a mock casualty scenario with Alaska Army National Guard. The training utilized the Mongolians' new Expeditionary Medical System (EMEDS) at the field training exercise Khaan Quest 2008, a United Nations multinational peace support exercise at Camp Five Hills Training Center near Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Alaska Air National Guard Photo by MSgt Jules Barklow

An Alaska Army National Guard contingent and their Mongolian guide during the opening ceremony for Khaan Quest 2008 at Camp Five Hills, Mongolia, on Sept. 3, 2008. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Julia Barklow.

An Alaska Army National Guard contingent and their Mongolian guide during the opening ceremony for Khaan Quest 2008 at Camp Five Hills, Mongolia, on Sept. 3, 2008. Alaska Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Julia Barklow.

CAMP FIVE HILLS, Mongolia -- So how far is it from Hawaii to Mongolia? Not too far, as it turns out, for the National Guard. The Army National Guard's 871st Engineering Battalion, based in Wailuku, Hawaii, recently visited this remote country to fix up and renovate the dormitory of a local school. The building had last been renovated in 1961.

The National Guard plumbers, electricians, masons and carpenters began overhauling the building's windows, doors, paint and flooring the project on Sept. 4, with a deadline for completion of Sept. 21.

Sgt. Chad Romero, a carpenter/mason originally from Kihei, Hawaii, said the project was going well and they were progressing quickly with the help of local Mongolians.

"Their tools are archaic by our standards, but they get the job done," Romero said. "They work with what little they have, but it works for them and we're really ahead of schedule."

The construction specialists concentrated on the second floor, since students still occupied the first. And despite the language barrier, the work was inherent to basic building construction, so the Mongolians and Americans worked together well. During break time, they learned each other's common phrases while the young students laughed and giggled as they mingled and passed by.

Romero recently returned from a tour in Iraq. He said the attitude towards the American team in Mongolia was different that much of what he saw in Iraq.

"The children threw rocks at us there and really acted like they didn't want us there helping them," he said. "Here, the Mongolian children want to interact, share trading of candy and play."

"The truly rewarding part of this project is that we are here being a part of their history and making a difference in their lives - and they appreciate it!" Romera said. "When you enjoy what you do for a job, you do it because you like to. But when someone appreciates it, the reward is even deeper."
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