DEDEDO, Guam — Fifteen Marines and sailors from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Strike Fighter Squadron 94 completed maintenance and upkeep on several bus stops Oct. 19.
The purpose of the project was to provide an opportunity for residents to see another side of armed forces as members of a larger community.
“We’re not just here to do a mission and take away,” said Lt. j.g. Travis E. Coffey, Marine Aircraft Group 12 deputy chaplain. “We’re here to leave something behind and touch the community in a way that impacts them.”
The project was set up by participating Marines and sailors and the lieutenant governor of Guam.
“The lieutenant governor has put together an effort going across the island to do different events, which the community and leaders can do to improve things for its citizens, so Guam can be seen in its best light,” said Coffey.
The service members were divided into four groups and spread out along a stretch of highway that had the most defaced bus stops. Many of the bus stops had been defaced with graffiti, and some were even infested with ticks.
“There’s always going to be obstacles for us to overcome,” said Coffey. “That’s why we’re a team. We keep pushing forward on the task at hand.”
Not every service member on the exercise could be there to help with the bus stop clean-up, but the ones who were able to take the time and help out all left with the satisfaction of their efforts.
“Not all of us could be out here to participate because of work, but I was still surprised by the number of people who showed up,” said Staff Sgt. Wanda R. Evans, VMFA-115 maintenance administration chief. “It was more than I expected.”
The service members chose to paint over much of the graffiti with a black base to make it more difficult for anyone who might attempt to deface the bus stops again.
“It was heinous,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle E. Riesenberg, a VMFA-115 aviation electrician. “I didn’t think we were going to get any kind of progress because of all the [graffiti]. It took a little while, but as we continued with the project, it transformed.”
As the service members painted the various designs, which included the seal of Guam, as well as the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy emblems, vehicles passed by honking their horns, the drivers waving.
“That just shows how much they appreciate us,” said Riesenberg.
The service members also realized some residents might see this as a publicity stunt but were steadfast in their commitment to the effort.
“We have an interest in the community,” said Riesenberg. “We do this for free, out of pride. We’re proud of our country, and we want everyone to feel the pride we feel.”
More events with opportunities for service members to interact with and help the community are scheduled for the future.
In the few remaining weeks, pilots from both squadrons took time Oct. 28 to spend time with Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps cadets and are scheduled to spend time at the Guam Girl Power Day Saturday.
This work, Service members help to give facelift to bus stops, by SSgt Kenneth Trotter Jr., identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.