YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. - "Leave it cleaner than you found it," is one of the oldest sayings in the military. For 11 North Carolina National Guard Soldiers in Youngsville, it was more than an order this April 18, 2015, it was a privilege as they put years of military muscle, training and discipline into 'Operation Support Our Own'.
The excavator rumbled, mowers kept a steady roar, axes slashed, dirt flew by the shovel full and many, many, sweetgum ball filled rakes were cursed as the members of the NCNG Ordnance Association, Austin - Bouton-Cardwell Chapter, took as their first mission as an association volunteering for Maj. Melissa Culbreth, a NCNG chaplain who is recovering from treatment for cancer.
"The association called me the day after I found out I would have to have five weeks of radiation treatment and concurrent chemo and said they wanted to help," said Culbreth.
About two hours of labor combined with chainsaws, axes, shovels, drills and more than a little sweat made quick work of rocks, weeds, long grass, clogged gutters, a several hundred-pound tree stump and a more than 40-foot tall tree threatening gutters and power lines. An easy task for experienced ordnance Soldiers with multiple combat and state active duty deployments.
"Part of ordnance is maintenance," said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Parker, a NCNG maintenance technician and president of the chapter.
This project transforms Culbreth's yard from spring growth into a manicured lawn, stacked firewood, a weeded back porch, repaired fences and pruned trees.
"I am on disability so without them it could not have been done," said Culbreth.
It changed more than just property. Smiles, hugs, handshakes, old war stories and other tales turned work into a celebration for a friend, battle buddy, mentor, adviser and leader.
"My Guard family stepped up and it is amazing to have this kind of support," said Culbreth.