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New York Guard Soldiers lend a helping hand in Puerto Rico

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The New York Army National Guard sent 45 soldiers from New York to help build a three family home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

They are working alongside Habitat for Humanity in an effort to help rebuild following the devastation from Hurricane Maria last September.

The soldiers arrived on Saturday and will be working until August 11. Soldiers who are currently in Puerto Rico told 12 News things are going well so far. Lt. Andrew Kopf and Maj. Dan Colomb are both from the 204th Engineer Battalion in Binghamton and volunteering in San Juan. 

"We got here yesterday, about halfway through the day to a bare foundation. We’ve been working for probably less than 12 working hours and we’ve got walls up, we’ve got rebar frames up. It’s starting to look like something," Kopf said. 

The 45 soldiers are working on a three family home. They are just one, two-week rotation in a series of eight rotations, so they won’t complete the entire home before leaving.

"We’re here for two weeks and this project won’t be completed by the time we leave. We’re going to push the ball down the road as far as we can and we got a highly motivated group of young soldiers here that are eager to put a solid work day in, everyday," Colomb said. 

Of the 45 soldiers, about 15-20 are from the Southern Tier.

"As far as the New York Army National Guard, we’re about 10,000 strong however there’s only one engineer battalion in the entire organization. So we are the key personnel to have those special skill set that can provide this building assistance," Lt. Col. Wing Yu, 204th Engineer Battalion, said. 

While the soldiers are doing something good for the community, they are also expanding their training. The entire project is part of the Department of the Defense innovative readiness program. 

"It’s very rare that we get to build things with someone else’s resources so it’s really good we get to do things we don’t typically do," Kopf said, " We’re doing construction in a style we don’t typically do back home."
 

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