KOROR, Republic of Palau -- Dignitaries, paramount chiefs, political and civic leaders, military officials and well wishers bid farewell to the Soldiers of Civic Action Team (CAT) Palau 84-06 during a transfer of authority ceremony at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center, Feb. 14.
During the ceremony, CAT 84-06, made up of Soldiers from the 84th Engineering Battalion, was relieved by CAT 36-04, made up of Airmen from the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron.
“Today’s ceremony marks another turnover of civic action teams here in Palau. There have been many of these turnovers through the 50-plus years our two nations have been partnering for this excellent program,” said Army Brigadier General Timothy Connelly, commanding general 9th Mission Support Command. “As we witness the Army turning over responsibility of the CAT to the Air Force, I’m struck with just how encompassing this program really is. The military services from the United States have made an enduring commitment to the people of Palau through the civic action team.”
The Soldiers of CAT 84-06 arrived in Palau in August 2019 during the celebration of 50 years of the Civic Action Team. During the Soldier’s six-months in Palau as CAT 84-06, they completed four major construction projects, primarily focused on improving the playgrounds of Palau’s elementary schools. They made significant progress on the renovation of the Assembly of God Church, setting up CAT 36-04 to complete the project during their tenure. They also completed 85 tech assists, helping Palauan citizens with everything from car repairs to minor fixes around their homes.
Medical engagement is at the very heart of the CAT mission and the team’s three rotational medical professionals provided support to more than 800 patients throughout Palau and brining medical care to many remote locations.
One of the unique aspects of the CAT mission in Palau is the apprenticeship program the team runs, training Palauans in multiple construction related career fields. CAT 84-06 provided educational and hands on training to 13 apprentices during their deployment, with three completing their apprenticeship and attaining their certification.
But the Soldiers commitment to their Palauan hosts didn’t end with the work day. They team volunteered their off-time back to the community by hosting movie nights, a multi-day Halloween Fall Festival, they supported Palau’s 25th Independence Day festivities, cleaned up Kayangle Beach, participated in the Christmas Parade, read to elementary students during multiple Story Time events, and held many House of Pain fitness programs on board Camp Katuu.
“It is my hope that the efforts of CAT 84-06 extend beyond the six months that we have been in Palau,” said Army 1st Lt. Kirsten Walsh, CAT 84-06 officer in charge. “That children will climb, swing and slide on the playgrounds and cherish their time at school for years to come. That the lessons learned at after school classes about conservation and environmental stewardship inspire young scientists to protect this pristine paradise.”
The Airmen of CAT 36-04 are eager to carry on the more than half century of friendship and partnership between the United States and Palau.
“We are honored to [be trusted with] the tasks that are brought forth and to continue the success of the CAT,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Afari Patterson, CAT 36-04 officer in charge. “We are ready to gain outstanding relationships, to learn as much as we can about the rich culture and environment of Palau, and to represent the positivity and professionalism of the United States armed forces and United States Air Force.”
Civic Action Team Palau provides construction support to the host nation, assists and trains apprentices with general engineering skills, facilitates a medical outreach program and conducts community service projects. CAT Palau is an integral part of the U.S. mission to assist and support the development of the Republic of Palau through the Compact of Free Association between the two nations.