by Master Sgt. Allen Pickert
190th Public Affairs
7/28/2015 - FORBES FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ks. -- Coyotes engineer a better life for orphans in Latvia while deterring aggression at the same time.
The 190th Civil Engineering Squadron spent most of June in Daugavpils,
Latvia, working with Latvian military engineers renovating an orphanage.
Funded by European Command, this humanitarian civic assistance project
is designed to improve relations with the host country while practicing
military cooperation. In this instance, it also happens to improve the
facilities and lives of 53 Latvian orphans.
The project included major improvements to the building from the
foundation to the roof, and everything in between. The more than 40
member team included eight Latvian Army engineers and the rest from the
"The different systems and language posed a real challenge the first
couple of days, but we made it work." said Staff Sgt. Aaron Rowley, a
first time deplorer with CES,
"They truly made it work because after the first few days, the local
Latvian contractors began thinking of extra projects for our engineers
because they did not expect the Americans to be so proficient in their
Rowley was also impressed by the CES teamwork, saying it was one of his
favorite things about the whole trip. The entire CES team voluntarily
came to the orphanage on one of their days off to give toys and gifts to
the orphans, and lend their muscle to some extra clean-up projects the
While there was a lot of teamwork and relation building on the work
sight in Daugavpils, the team actually stayed in an empty school house
nearly a half hour away in Medumi, Latvia. Relation building continued
there, much of it done through the international language of soccer.
"Maybe you couldn't talk to each other before playing, but on the soccer
field it showed we are all alike." said Senior Airman Daniel
Robinson-Lopez, a first time deplorer. "I liked showing the ethnic
Russians that we can work together and be friends."
Eastern Latvia, the Latgale region, is full of ethnic Russians with
Russian being the common language. This deployment and joint operations
with the Latvian Army engineers helped to build working relations
between the different regions of Latvia and the United States.
Airman 1st Class Samantha Ghareeb on her first deployment said, "My
favorite things have been experiencing a new culture and the food. The
people are friendly: we've been received really well here."
While the excitement of her first overseas deployment topped her list,
the teamwork of CES wasn't far from her mind, "I wouldn't want to deploy
with anyone else. I feel safe with CE." she added.
Teamwork comes naturally with the 190th CES and that same teamwork grew
easily with the Latvian soldiers, civilian contractors and orphanage
"Every aspect of the trip has far exceeded my expectations." said Senior
Master Sgt. Casey Batterton, 190th CES member. "The most rewarding, by
far, is the impact we are leaving on the 53 orphans. I could not be more
proud of the Airmen, non-commissioned officers and Latvian engineers
that made this happen, however I'm always quick to brag on family."