HAT YAO BEACH, Kingdom of Thailand --
Laughter and conversation filled the patio of the Samesan officers club as Thai and U.S. service members attended a Breaking the Ice Ceremony, Feb. 9.
Col. Andrew MacMannis, the commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, commanders with the Amphibious Squadron 11, as well as other Navy and Marine Corps personnel attended the ceremony to build relationships prior to the kick-off of the Cobra Gold exercise.
Also in attendance was Rear Admiral Jeerapat Pansakun, Commander of Amphibious and Combat Support Service Squadron, Royal Thai Fleet, and Capt. Surapak Dharachan, Chief of Staff for Amphibious and Combat Support Services.
During the ceremony Thai and U.S. commands exchanged gifts, watched cultural shows, and had dinner together.
“This event sets the stage for the exercise,” said Gunnery Sgt. David M. Rooks, squadron gunnery sergeant, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU. “We got to interact prior to the exercise and we got to communicate with them and learn some of the values that we share. We were also able to make some friendships so we can better understand each other.”
The ceremony did more for service members of both nations than just make them new friends.
“The relationship between the Thai and U.S. forces, the Navy and Marines, are very close,” said Capt. Iamsuro Anucha, lead exercise planner with the Royal Thai Navy. “This event definitely helps improve relationships between Thai and U.S. forces. Having this icebreaker allows us some time to talk over things and get to know each other. This also really helps my sailors because normally we would train by ourselves, but when you have this big exercise with other nations, it helps us develop our skills.”
The Kingdom of Thailand is United States’ oldest friend and ally in Asia and it shares many of the same democratic ideals. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce, beginning the Thai-U.S. relationship, was signed on March 20, 1833.