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Focus on Service

Cobra Gold 2017

Learning and helping

Money was not the motivating factor for Seaman Jamel Harris, a Seabee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5. It was about the opportunity to learn a trade.

It was about the experience of working alongside construction counterparts to build a school in the beautiful countryside of Rayong, Thailand.

Harris was learning about all aspects of building construction during exercise Cobra Gold 2017, while at the same time helping build a school for the teachers and students of Rayong.

Another Seabee from NMCB 5, Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Stanko, said these kinds of projects are what led him to enlist in the Navy as a steelworker.

"My recruiter told me to join the Seabees. He said they build schools in foreign countries for kids," Stanko said. "I joined the Navy to do construction, but the fact that it was humanitarian appealed to me."
Photo collage of Seabees at Gold Cobra 2017.

Exercise Cobra Gold 2017 is an annual multinational and multiservice exercise developed by the U.S. and Thai militaries and hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand. The exercise, in its 36th iteration, focused on humanitarian civic action, community engagement and medical activities to support the needs of civilians living in the region.

The U.S. and partner nations completed six buildings for different schools the past month during Exercise Cobra Gold, while also participating in community engagement events that gave service members an opportunity to interact with children.

"The kids are fun and have a bunch of energy," said Harris. "They like to learn, I like to learn from them, it makes it worth it."