Honoring our heroes
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Spc. Robert Hawthorne and Pfc. Reid Charlton with the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, team up with Pfc. Kenneth Martin with the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, to clean and polish one of several granite benches dedicated to fallen Soldiers in the Monterey Lakes Memorial Park during the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Community Partnership Day on Fort Wainwright Aug. 2011.

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Airmen from the 354th Fighter Wing and the 168th Air Refueling Wing at Eielson Air Force Base joined Soldiers from Fort Wainwright and members of the local community for the 11th Annual Community Partnership Day Aug. 3 at Memorial Park on Fort Wainwright.

The event has taken place every year since 2001, and was started to strengthen relationships between Airmen, Soldiers and the local community. The annual community service project event alternates each year between Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright.

"This event is special because it partners members of our armed forces with members of the civilian community working side-by-side to complete a project either on Fort Wainwright or at Eielson Air Force Base," said Diane Hutchison, Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

Volunteers met to spruce up Monterey Lakes Memorial Park by cleaning monuments, pillars and benches, pruning trees and installing three flower beds. The park honors service members from all branches of the armed forces, all wars and conflicts. The first monument was erected in 2007 to memorialize the 30 Soldiers from the 172nd Infantry Brigade who perished during their deployment from 2005 to 2006. Soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Task Force 49, now called the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division who made the ultimate sacrifice are honored with 30 black granite pillars, one for each Soldier lost, in addition to the brigade's memorial.

"This is third time I've worked out here at Monterey Lakes Memorial Park. It's an extraordinary park and I get a little choked up when I work out here because I've attended most of the Stryker memorial services here. I can pretty much remember each one of them," Hutchison said.

After a couple hours of hard work, the volunteers were treated to a picnic lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers prepared especially for them by "celebrity" chefs from the local military and civilian communities.

"It was an awesome opportunity," said Airman 1st Class Jerry Howk, 354th Communications Squadron cyber transport technician. "I like doing volunteer work; meeting some of the soldiers and civilian volunteers was a good experience. The project also made me aware of [the memorial park] out there."

Past projects have included playground equipment installation and beautifying the front gate at Eielson.

Page last updated Thu August 11th, 2011 at 17:23