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'Island Warriors,’ family members volunteer to clear vegetation Kristen Wong

Lance Cpl. A.J. Gagliardo, a rifleman with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, removes excess foliage with a machete at Heeia State Park, July 13, 2013. The Marines of the Remain Behind Element, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines and their family members joined the local community in clearing overgrown vegetation at the park. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Wong)

KANEOHE, Hawaii - Heeia State Park resounded with the buzz of chainsaws and weed-whackers as the “Island Warriors” of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and family members spent July 13, 2013 engaged in community service.

While the majority of the unit is currently training in Exercise Lava Viper on the Island of Hawaii, the members of the unit’s Remain
Behind Element and “Island Warrior” family members joined local
volunteers and Kamaaina Kids staff members in clearing the park’s
overgrown vegetation.

When Kamaaina Kids, a nonprofit organization, first took over management of Heeia State Park three years ago, the 18-acre land
was overwhelmed with growth. The volunteers and staff have spent the last few years working on this large project.

Raymond Sanborn, the president of Kamaaina Kids, stressed that every volunteer day is crucial to the progress of this clearing effort. He said that dedicated volunteers can “capture an acre or two” at a time.

For about six hours, the volunteers used weed-whackers, machetes, rakes and other equipment to remove small trees, branches, piles of grass and even an old concrete slab.

They also took a break in the middle of the day to have a volunteer lunch, including ribs, rice and pineapples.

Heeia State Park manager Jolie Moniz said while several volunteers
left after lunch, the Marines stayed, asking for more work.

“Their eagerness to work was fantastic,” Moniz said.

“It’s really great to give back to the community,” said Staff Sgt. Sergio Hernandez, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, RBE, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “We’re always busy on base working or (going on) deployments, and Oahu is so beautiful, it’s good to get out in the community and help out.”

Hernandez said the volunteer opportunity request was sent to the unit, and he offered to lead the group. He expressed an interest in further volunteer opportunities in the future.

He added that volunteer opportunities like this encourage Marines to take time out of their daily routine and get out of the barracks to help the community.

He added that the Kamaaina Kids staff “is very friendly and awesome to work with.”

“It’s really thick vegetation,” said Sgt. Isreal Eschete, platoon sergeant, RBE, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “Just to go a couple feet takes a long time without help.

It’s a good turnout of Marines and civilians. Progress so far has been outstanding and consistent.”

Eschete came to Heeia State Park to volunteer, clearing grass with a weed-whacker.

Although this was the first volunteer day with Kamaaina Kids, the Lapeer, Mich., native also volunteers with the USO. He said that volunteering was a good way to show appreciation to the civilians for their support of the military.

“We’re very blessed to have them here,” Moniz said. “I don’t think we would have gotten this far so fast without them.”

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This work, ‘Island Warriors,’ family members remove excess foliage at local park, by Kristen Wong, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:07.19.2013

Date Posted:07.19.2013 16:48

Location:KANEOHE, HI, USGlobe

Hometown:LAPEER, MI, US

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