Guard's 1140th to help build roads, schools in Dominican Republic

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo -- The Missouri National Guard is about to embark on a monthlong mission to help build roads, schools, medical clinics and other much-needed infrastructure in the Dominican Republic.

The 1140th Engineer Battalion's Headquarters Company, based in Cape Girardeau, will be working in the Dominican Republic as part of its Annual Training for two, two-week rotations, said Capt. Scot Ratcliff, administrative officer for the unit.

Ratcliff is among the 23 Citizen-Soldiers who is on the first rotation, which runs from March 14-28. The second rotation of 23 area Guard members is scheduled for March 28-April 11. The combat engineers will be traveling more than 2,000 miles to the Dominican Republic, which is the second largest Caribbean island nation, with an estimated 9.5 million people.

The unit will be participating in Beyond the Horizon, a humanitarian and civic assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to train U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers in construction and medical skills.

Over the past 25 years of the program, military engineers have constructed hundreds of schools, clinics, community centers, dug wells and provided medical care to thousands of people. In the past, the program has focused on places like Honduras, Panama and Trinidad.

The Dominican Republic work will take place from March 15 until June 15, meaning the 1140th Guard members will be among the first on the scene. Most of the projects will take place near Santo Domingo, which is located in the south-central part of the country and is the nation's capital.

About 18 projects are scheduled for the training, Ratcliff said, including drainage projects, building and improving roads and the construction of schools, medical clinics and one sports complex. The vertical construction work will utilize the Royal Building System. The system performs extremely well in earthquake, hurricane and tornado-prone areas.

"What we have here is a country that tends to get hit by hurricanes on a regular basis," Ratcliff said. "So we're going to repair damage done by previous hurricanes and posture them against future hurricanes."

The purpose of the mission is two-fold: to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the Dominican Republic and to provide training for the Guard members in tasks including controlled mobilization and deployment, planning of logistics operations, using military decision-making processes, preparing engineer estimates and the chance to hone other Guard skills.

"It's a great opportunity," Ratcliff said. "We get to help the citizens in the Dominican Republic as well as excellent training opportunities for us."

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.

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For more information about this release, please contact Scott Moyers at 573-339-6237 or at scott.moyers1@us.army.mil. Moyers is the unit public affairs representative for the 1140th Engineer Battalion.

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