When MSgt. Anthony Goodwater taught a Ugandan officer the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of being a combat engineer, he never thought he would see the foreign officer again.
But two years later, the phrase “it’s a small world” became a reality when he was reunited with his former student, 1st Lt. Martin Orech, in the middle of Uganda.
Orech, an officer in the Ugandan Army, was under the tutelage of Goodwater when he attended the Marine Corps’ Combat Engineer Officer Course located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Goodwater was one of his instructors. Orech attended the engineer training as part of a foreign exchange program after completing Marine officer training at The Basic School aboard MCB Quantico, Va.
“As soon as I arrived (at the Ugandan camp) Lt. Orech recognized me, called me over and welcomed me with open arms,” said Goodwater, a 17-year vet of the Corps from Charleston, S.C.
Goodwater is currently deployed as the platoon sergeant for the engineer platoon of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and was sent to Uganda for three weeks in June with the task of teaching basic engineering and demolitions to Ugandan soldiers.
Going to Uganda was a unique experience, and a location he would never see unless the Marine Corps sent him there, explained Goodwater. Even more unique was how he ended up serving alongside his former student.
Goodwater remembered Orech as a smart, physically fit officer who always paid attention and did well throughout the course. This paid off now as Goodwater looked to Orech for assistance with training the Ugandan soldiers.
“Having him there assisting was a great help,” said Goodwater. “He understood what we were trying to teach and did a great job translating. It was great to see him as a strong leader amongst his soldiers. He probably could teach the class himself.”
After three weeks of training the Ugandans, Goodwater was due to be promoted.
Orech surprised his former teacher with a grand finale for this event holding a formation of nearly 180 Ugandan soldiers to celebrate Goodwater’s promotion at the end of the course.
“(Orech) wanted his troops to see how we conducted our formal promotion ceremonies. But, I was completely surprised by their celebration afterwards,” said Goodwater.
After Goodwater’s official promotion ceremony concluded the Ugandans broke out to celebratory song and dance lead by Orech.
Clapping hands accompanied song versus belted by Orech and his troops as all who were present, Marines included, took part in the celebration.
“This whole experience was wonderful,” said Goodwater. “I got to travel to a country I never would’ve been to unless I was in the Marines, was welcomed by a former student of mine who we trained at a Marine Corps school in N.C., and received a memorable promotion ceremony thanks to 1st Lt. Orech.”