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Camp Commandant Staff Keeps Cobra Gold Task Force Running

By Lance Cpl. Scott Whittington, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Thailand, May 16, 2000 – As the last of the main body arrived here for Exercise Cobra Gold 2000, U.S. service members assigned to the camp commandant at the Combined/Joint Task Force headquarters here had been hard at work for weeks getting the camp ready for the exercise.

The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines arrived nearly a month before the exercise began May 9 and went about constructing facilities and gates, setting up power and air conditioning and standing security duty.

Since the service members have been here, they have constructed shade boxes for generators, general purpose tents, sound barriers to block the noise of generators, walls and stairs, according to Pfc. Scott A. Wolfe, an engineer with the 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, Japan.

Working in Thailand's unrelenting hot temperature has taken its toll on some of the service members, but they have been beating the heat, according to Senior Airman Orlando P. Lopez, an information manager from Pacific Air Forces headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. "It's really hot, and the humidity is a killer," he said. "I try to stay in the shade and drink lots and lots of water."

"The temperature is uncomfortable here," Petty Officer 3rd class Detra L. Works agreed. Normally a master at arms aboard the carrier USS Carl Vinson, Works is more accustomed to the 65- to 70-degree highs around her home port of Bremerton, Wash.

When the service members arrived, the temperature was not the only surprise. The area was void of activity and life. The buildings scheduled for use were empty and looked as though they hadn't been used in quite some time, according to members of the advanced party.

Other challenges tested the Americans as well. Works and her colleagues, for example, set up the program to ensure everyone had an identification badge to access the Combined/joint Task Force headquarters building during the exercise. Works said setting up the program and making it run smoothly were two of the most challenging tasks she endured. However, with challenges like this come rewards as well.

"I enjoyed meeting people and seeing the diversity of the different services and the people of Thailand," Lopez said. "Participating in this combined joint exercise is not something I get to do very much."

Though some were jet lagged and many were often soaked with sweat, these service members worked diligently until the job was done.

"With the help of these service members, Cobra Gold 2000 will be a successful exercise," according to Marine Gunnery Sgt. Linval G. Lewis, headquarters camp commandant chief.

(Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Whittington is assigned to the Cobra Gold exercise Combined/Joint Information Bureau, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Cpl. Robert J. Guillot, an engineer with the 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, from Okinawa, Japan, and buddies build a bus stop at Camp Wachirahwud, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2000. Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Whittington, USMC.  
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