FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Helping out at local schools is just one way the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment like to show their support for the local communities.

A group of 10 Soldiers, mostly made up of the unit’s command group, showed up at D.A. Smith Middle School in Ozark Saturday, June 23 ready to help cut weeds, clear out brush, repaint stairwells and provide any other service asked of them, said Maj. John Tucker, the unit’s executive officer.

“We came out today to help out our sister community of Ozark with a beautification project,” Tucker said. “We had a little bit of everybody out today from company commanders to pilots and even some Family members.”

Tucker said the tightly-knit communities like Ozark are important to Fort Rucker and the unit, so it’s important to be involved with them as much as possible.

“Community relations are very important, especially here in the Wiregrass,” he said. “We support the communities the same as they support us. Education is very important to me, so being able to help out a school is a great way to form those strong community bonds.”

The cleanup day, as it has come to be called, started last year and is a way for the community members to give back to the school by helping clean it up in preparation for the new school year, said Danelle Peterman, school principal.

She added that having the Soldiers helping out showed the strong connection the two communities have with one another.

“I think it’s great that they’re here helping out,” she said. “They are very good at what they do and their work ethic is amazing. There is a great and positive working relationship between the two communities. They are willing to work and collaborate with us in any way they can. Ozark is the home of Fort Rucker, so we want them to know they are welcome here in our city.”

Some Family members also came to help out in the cleanup, despite having to get up early on a Saturday morning and endure some hot temperatures.

“I just wanted to come out and help as much as I can,” said Fernando Rivera Jr., son of 1st Bn., 14th Avn. Regt. 1st Sgt. Fernando Rivera. “I didn’t want to get up at one point, but this was also a way to have some Family time.”

Rivera and his father worked to clear out a section of the school where weeds and brush had overgrown over a walkway. They said that when they started it was hard to tell there was a walkway under it all, but once they finished it was cleared away and the sidewalk was visible again.

“It just needed some love,” said the elder Rivera. “It was just a matter of putting in some work and cleaning out a lot of the overgrowth.”