Fort Benning Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. – A stretch of ground that had no trees now has dozens growing in two rows after Soldier volunteers from Officer Candidate School here took shovels in hand and planted them March 13 beside the Indianhead Village housing area.
The trees – oaks and magnolias – went in along an open field that takes up about two blocks beside Indianhead Road, at a point between Lavoie Avenue and Derrickson Street, near the duplexes of the Indianhead Village Family housing area.
The Soldiers planted a total of 61 trees: five live oaks, 16 Nuttall oaks, and 40 Jane saucer magnolias, with the oaks ranged in one row and the smaller "ornamental" magnolias in another, said Kirk Ticknor, interim Housing Division chief at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning's Directorate of Public Works (DPW).
The trees currently range in height from 10 to 15 feet with trunks of about a half-inch to an inch in diameter, Ticknor said.
The planting added trees to what had been "this big open field with a basketball court in the middle of it – that's pretty barren," Ticknor said prior to the planting. "And so by planting some ornamental trees with some nice live oaks above them, you're really gonna improve the appearance of the entrance to that neighborhood.
"Ornamentals'll be in a single file, literally right alongside Indianhead Road," said Ticknor, "and then your bigger trees'll be a little closer to that basketball court, also in a row.
"So you'll have a long row of small, ornamental trees that are probably flowering in the spring, and then behind them would be larger oak trees that'll provide some nice shade, improve the view," he said.
The 133 Soldiers who volunteered for the planting were officer candidates from Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, part of Fort Benning's 199th Infantry Brigade, and are enrolled in OCS class 003-2.
Arrangements to buy and plant the trees were worked out between a civil engineer from Fort Benning's DPW, an arborist from Trees Columbus, which is an environmental non-profit organization in Columbus, Georgia, and with the support of The Villages of Benning, a private firm that manages Family housing at Fort Benning in partnership with the Army here, Ticknor said.
The Villages dug holes for the trees several days before the event, said Ticknor, and the Soldiers planted the trees with guidance and advice from Trees Columbus.
The planting buoyed the spirits of the Delta Company officer candidates, said its class president, Officer Candidate Charles Curtis, 26, who upon graduating March 19 will become a second lieutenant in the Infantry branch.
"It was great because we've been here since fall, so the majority of all our time here has been winter," said Curtis. "We stayed out in the field during some cold times.
"So," he said, "to be out there during good weather, towards the end of our tenure here, contributing to not only the beauty of the base but also just like, helping something grow, if we come back five, 10, 30 years from now to Fort Benning later on in our career, and that esplanade has grown to something beautiful to look at, we'll be able to know, 'Oh, we contributed to that.' It was good. I will absolutely say that the mood was high."