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Missouri Airmen finish construction on Latvian orphanage

U.S. Airmen with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, and soldiers with the Latvian National Armed Forces attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at a newly reconstructed building of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 23, 2015.  The 139th CE was participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project through the United States European Command, that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

U.S. Airmen with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, and soldiers with the Latvian National Armed Forces attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at a newly reconstructed building of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 23, 2015. The 139th CE was participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project through the United States European Command, that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

Janina Jalinska, head of Daugavpils Regional Council, speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a newly reconstructed building of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 23, 2015.  Various U.S. Air National Guard units and Latvian National Armed Forces were participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project through the United States European Command, that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

Janina Jalinska, head of Daugavpils Regional Council, speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a newly reconstructed building of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 23, 2015. Various U.S. Air National Guard units and Latvian National Armed Forces were participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project through the United States European Command, that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

DAUGAVPILS, Latvia -- The doors were officially opened here July 23 for the Naujene Orphanage reconstruction project during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Members from the Daugavpils Regional Council, U.S. Embassy in Latvia, Latvian Army Land Forces, and 139th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) were in attendance.

"Only with a team can you accomplish great things," said Janina Jalinska, head of Daugavpils Regional Council.

Jalinska presented awards of excellence to five airmen from the 139th CES, four Latvian soldiers, as well as Chief Master Sgt. Montgomery, project lead from the 184th CES and Gunita Migliniece, program manager for the Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy.

"The new building will be used as a small group house, holding two groups of no more than 10 children," said Lilita Gasjaneca, director of Naujene Orphanage.

The small group set-up will allow siblings to reside together and allow the older children to learn the skills of cooking and cleaning.

Anna Jegorova, head of Daugavpils Regions Social Service explained, "This is not the first project in our region, and we hope it will not be our last. We extend our gratitude to our soldiers and your airmen."

"I'm convinced the children now know what is the U.S. military, what is the Latvian Army, and what is the U.S. Embassy", said Vanessa Acker, deputy chief of Political Economic Sections, U.S. Embassy. "No borders, no ocean, no air can separate us - we can do anything, together."

The ribbon cutting ceremony concluded with a tour of the reconstructed facilities, ceremonial music, gifts, refreshments, and of course the exchange of stories and friendships.