POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii - Four Soldiers were just about done with unit training at the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) when a different kind of service called.

Spc. Anthony Cardenas, Pfc. Spencer Brown, Pvt. 2 Monica Brown, and Pvt. 2 Julius Rogers, from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, were chosen to support a much-needed Na Ala Hele-Trails and access systems work project, April 21, at the Kipuka Trail, located at the 21 Mile Marker on Saddle Road.

The half-mile circular Kipuka Trail, once completed, will be a place where people can get closer to nature.
"We plan to build a pavilion with two picnic benches, a railing to overlook the forest and a user-friendly trail," said Virginia Aragon, information and education outreach specialist, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. "At this time, we need volunteers to make improvements to the trail so that it is safe for children and senior citizens to use when they walk around the forest.

"The area provides a place where people can see native bird species, such as the akepa and the palila, in their natural habitat," she added.

Aragon said she appreciates all volunteers.

"The Soldiers are valuable in completing the trail as we rely upon volunteers for much of the work," she said. "The Division of Forestry and Wildlife truly appreciates their efforts, and we hope that we can continue to rely on this partnership with Pohakuloa (Training Area)."

One of the Soldiers expressed his appreciation for nature.

"I've been working on the trail for about an hour-and-a-half, basically hauling rocks and placing them at an area where there is a need to slightly level off part of the steep trail," said Cardenas. "I understand what this work means as we develop this trail into a much safer place to navigate. By carefully laying out rocks and the gravel along the path, we are making this into an enjoyable means for people to appreciate various wildlife, birds and plants."

Soldiers' support for the Kipuka Trail is beneficial in two ways, according to a PTA staff member.

"I think that two of the greatest things we do at Pohakuloa Training Area are partnering with our local community and preserving the environment, working with the State's Na Ala Hele trails program," said Robert Misajon, PTA plans and operations officer. "It's our way of giving back to the aina (land) and is also educational for the Soldiers supporting Na Ala Hele."

"Virginia Aragon is an expert on the flora and fauna in the Kipuka and always shares her knowledge and love for the land with volunteers and Soldiers who help out," Misajon added, grateful for Aragon's contributions.