NEWS | Sept. 14, 2021

Investing in the Future: Marines with Task Force Koa Moana 21 Repair Local School

By Sgt. Marvin Lopeznavarro I Marine Expeditionary Force

KOROR, Republic of Palau -- When the Marines of Task Force Koa Moana 21, I Marine Expeditionary Force, heard the only public high school in the Republic of Palau was in need of repairs, there was only one thing they could do – offer to help.

“We are helping out the Palau High School by replacing the roofing for their bathrooms and fixing the damage on their concrete stair cases that has been caused by environmental conditions and time,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Toby J. Vargas, a combat engineer with Task Force Koa Moana 21, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

The team of 12 engineers quickly began by assessing the damage and taking measurements. With materials in hand, the Marines got to work.

A combination of drills, electric saws, hammers, willpower and a desire to help others pushed the Marines throughout the project. Despite constant rain, the engineers were able to complete the project in three days.

The repairs really helped improve the school, said Melanjane Pedro, the vice principle of Palau High School.

“We have had these problems for a couple of years. Seeing them get fixed really makes the students feel happier and safer,” said Melanjane. “I believe the Marines that helped the school with this project set a really good example for the students.”

This community outreach event was one of several planned engineering projects for Task Force Koa Moana 21, all in an effort to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to the Compact of Free Association and to helping the Republic of Palau become more prosperous, stable, and secure.

“Seeing Marines around Palau makes us feel safe. We’re thankful for the hard job the Marines are doing,” Melanjane said Task Force Koa Moana is designed to strengthen and enhance relationships between the U.S. and partner nations/states in the Indo-Pacific Region while remaining COVID-19 safe.

The task force has the unique opportunity and privilege of working with the Republic of Palau as a sign of the U.S. commitment to the people of Palau and its partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Access the following link to view photos of Task Force Koa Moana 21: