U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area’s annual open house - Experience PTA Day – was a huge success through military and community partnerships, drawing almost 800 visitors on April 20, 2023.
“We’re part of the community and we’re super excited to have this dedicated day to welcome the public and showcase the incredible work that happens every day at Pōhakuloa Training Area,” said the Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “The staff put an incredible amount of time and energy to plan and prepare for this event to ensure a safe and educational experience for all.”
The event was a success due to the partnership of 15 external organizations who set up information and activity booths to educate school children and the public from a wide range of topics such as how to reduce wildfire risks at residences, how craters are formed on planets, services for veterans, how to support wounded warriors, jobs available at Kilauea Military Camp, and so much more.
During the Garrison Commander’s welcoming remarks, he said, “We are a Team of Teams and this is the perfect embodiment of the Team that we have going on at Hawai’i Island and at Pōhakuloa Training Area.”
There was also Joint Forces participation with the 25th Infantry Division Army Band, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps aircrafts, military static displays, and recruiters from all branches of military at the open house. Visitors got a rare chance to see the AAI RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and ask Soldiers questions.
The PTA environmental program information and activity booths are always a favorite feature as this event morphed from an Earth Day event years ago. Today, the open house is an all-encompassing event showcasing all the PTA programs and the robust community partnerships.
Visitors got a chance to talk to archeologists, biologists and other staff to learn about how PTA protects endangered and rare plants and animals. They also learned about PTA’s recycling program which diverts more than 50% of waste from landfills; 500,000+ pounds in 2022.
The Fire Department’s fire hose activity enjoyed long lines of keikis and adults alike wanting a chance to see what it’s like being a firefighter. Adults stood in awe of the huge Public Works bulldozers that play a critical role in creating fire breaks at PTA, while keikis climbed on to see the view up top.
Visitors and PTA employees alike were enthralled by the flyovers of military aircrafts. And then they got to go to Bradshaw Army Airfield to view the aircrafts up close, sit in the pilot seats, walk through aircrafts, and talk to pilots and crew members.
A Vietnam War Veteran and his wife who visited PTA had this to say: “I always wanted to come here…I had a good time…it was interesting to see the choppers and Marine helicopters [actually Osprey aircraft]…I found out that there are eight plant species that are only found on the base and how they preserve them…it was all pretty interesting.”
There were even foreign visitors. “Everyone has been so friendly…We had a wonderful experience. All the giveaways…it’s really nice to see all the school kids enjoy themselves…the firefighters and the different units…it’s just a wonderful experience we can take home to Vancouver, Canada,” said a Canadian family visiting the island.
There were lots of smiles, laughter and positive feedback from students who came in the bus loads. A Makua Lani Christian Academy student commented, “There were lots of activities, we could make our own buttons, do art, make some clay things…it was just very fun.”
Another student said, “My favorite part of this trip was going in the pilot seat and learning about the controls.”
Pōhakuloa Training Area welcomes feedback to make next year’s open house even better: firstname.lastname@example.org.