OKINAWA, Japan - Marines and sailors from various units of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, helped strengthen the relationship between the U.S and the Republic of Korea community by volunteering to clean up a local school after a snowstorm left tree branches scattered on the ground in Pohang, ROK, Feb. 25.
The Marines and sailors cleaned up the garden of St. Paul Kindergarten by clearing the trees and branches that fell during a snowstorm that blanketed the area with more than two feet of snow last month. The storm was one of the largest in ROK history.
“This is a great opportunity to not only help each other, but to also help the community,” said Seaman Scotti Hargrove, a corpsman with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st MAW.
The Marines and sailors picked up fallen branches, cut down hanging limbs and piled large logs together to clean the garden and make it a safer place for the children who attend the school.
“I really appreciate the Marines [and sailors] coming out and helping clean the school grounds,” said Nam Hyok Im, the community relations officer for Camp Mujuk. “The teachers and children appreciated the work they did to make the school safer and cleaner, and enjoyed the opportunity to meet the U.S. service members.”
Not only did the school receive assistance from the heavy-lifting by the Marines and sailors, but the service members had the chance to interact with a different community and culture.
“It feels good to be able to do something for the community as well as take a break from our day-to-day work,” said Master Sgt. Isaac Hernandez, a chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear chief with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st MAW.
As the day went on, the school children were released to go home and the Marines and sailors were given a chance to see the faces of those they were helping.
When the Marines and sailors finished, the teachers and director of the school came out to thank them personally for cleaning the garden and offered them green tea as well as a ride back to Camp Mujuk on one of the school’s buses.
“The director of the school displayed her deepest thanks and appreciation for the Marines coming and helping out,” said Im. “We know how the Marines like to make good relations and a good image with the community by volunteering themselves and their time.”