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Broadfording grad helping Guyana residents through Marines

September 12, 2009|By DONA FAIR / Special to The Herald-Mail

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Not many people in this remote South American country get a reception like this Hagerstown area man. People paddle miles upriver, hike through overgrown jungle trails and pile into cramped, overcrowded buses to get to him.

He is Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Brandon M. Royce, son of Jane L. King of Park Lane in Hagerstown and Michael E. Royce of Frederick, Md., who recently spent time in Guyana as part of a nation-building and humanitarian exercise called New Horizons.

He and more than 200 service members provided such things as medical and dental care, built schools and other community facilities to aid the people of the poverty-stricken nation.

"As a civil affairs specialist for the fourth rotation of the 4th Civil Affairs Group Marines for New Horizons, I have worked to engage the local populous and further projects to improve the country, such as school building and supplying, and medical clinics," said Royce, a 2004 graduate of Broadfording Christian Academy in Hagerstown.

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Celebrating 25 years of providing aid to underserved areas throughout Central and South America, New Horizons also gives service members a type of experience they would never receive at their normal duty station. This year, the focus has been on building a new medical clinic in La Pentinence, a new schoolhouse in Bel Air, the renovation of another school in Timehri and eight medical readiness exercises throughout the region.

"I have gained knowledge and experience in assistance in Guyana that I can use to further the mission of future countries I may visit for civil affairs," Royce said.

Amid the poverty, sickness and structural decay of the region lies one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Dense forests, with some of the most exotic plant and animal life, along with some of the most spectacular waterfalls anywhere make Guyana a place where time seems to stand still.

"Guyana is a beautiful country, albeit warm and humid environment," Royce said. "The people are very relaxed, it seems for the most part, and respond warmly."

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