CAT Team turnover ceremony. US Ambassador Hennessey-Niland bid "fair winds" to the outgoing team.

The Turnover Ceremony for the change of command from the outgoing US Navy Civic Action Team (CAT) to the incoming US Army CAT took place yesterday morning at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center, marking the 52nd year of the CAT program in Palau.
US Ambassador John Hennessey-Niland “wished fair seas” to Navy CAT 133-29 and welcomed the incoming Army CAT 84-07, stressing that “you are here to assist and to help build and maintain, in a very concrete way, the strongest possible foundation for relationship between the US and Palau”.
The new CAT personnel arrived in Palau on January 23 and were released from quarantine last week, and have since been working closely with the outgoing team to learn CAT operations in Palau.
1st Lieutenant Avery Austin, who commands the incoming team, said that he looks forward to serving the community through construction, sports, and social interactions.
“Our team has undergone 30 days of quarantine, six COVID-tests, and both doses of the vaccine to make sure we are doing our part to keep this beautiful country safe,” said Lt. Austin.
The outgoing CAT team, which is leaving Palau seven months after its arrival, is made up of Navy Seabees, but is commanded by US Army Captain Mariah Caid-Loos, in an example of what Ambassador Niland referred to as a “jointness of the whole of the US military coming together as partners”. The incoming CAT is made up of Army personnel, but will be assisted throughout their time here by Navy Seabee Tiger Teams as well as the Marines, and will be succeeded after their rotation by a team from the US Air Force.
During their seven months in Palau, the outgoing CAT completed 152 construction projects and tech assists, including the construction of storm shutters, school playgrounds, parking lots, and various buildings including the temporary kennel facility for the k9 working dogs. They have also organized and participated in a variety of community relations outreach activities, such as the Veterans Day parade, the Halloween Haunted House and Zombie Run, and the Apprenticeship Program to train locals in general engineering skills. The outgoing CAT graduated four Palauans in the Apprenticeship Program in skills such as carpentry, electrical engineering, and administration, and hosted 500 students who visited Camp Katuu on Seabee Days.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. thanked the outgoing team particularly for their support of the local community in capacity-building for the youth of Palau.
“The development of our youth is a very important part of the development of our country,” President Whipps said, adding that most of the workers who operate mechanical equipment in Surangel & Sons Construction Co. graduated from the CAT Apprenticeship Program.
President Whipps outlined the CAT’s support in “cleaning the environment” by disposing of junk cars littering the streets, in improving exercise facilities, in helping Palau become “more resilient to climate change” by constructing storm shutters, and “most importantly, in building those people-to-people relationships”.
Several government and private organizations presented tokens of appreciation to the outgoing CAT, including the Ministry of Education, the Bureau of Domestic Affairs, the Palau Community Action Agency, the Ngiwal Evangelical Church, and the International Organization for Migration.

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