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Team Andersen, RAAF, JASDF group to assist local community

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Veronica McMahon
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Team Andersen Airmen joined members from the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force to participate in a community beautification project in Dededo, Guam, Feb. 18.

The community relations event volunteers joined efforts with one another to volunteer at three locations throughout Dededo, giving back to the local community as a whole.

"In support of Cope North 2012, we are out here restoring these buildings and working together and giving back to the community," said Staff Sgt. Henry Smith, 36th Force Support Squadron. "Right now we are painting the mayor's office and we just finished the Dededo Library. We are trying to make it presentable and put our footprint in the community."

The mayor's office and the library were two major landmarks in Dededo which needed some attention; after the hours spent painting, the volunteers gave a whole new look to the buildings.

While many volunteers did primarily spend time painting, others were using different skills to rebuild and beautify the Maria Ulloa Elementary School playground.

"I'm here volunteering and trying to help out the school and get the playground equipment ready for the children," said Staff Sgt. Alexander Port, 36th Munitions Squadron. "We are trying to do as much as we can as a trilateral force to support the community of Guam and it's a great opportunity to give back to the community."

Before the volunteers arrived at the elementary school there was not much of a playground at all. After they began working the playground was quickly built and painted.

The school staff was impressed by the efforts the volunteers contributed.

"We are really, really happy to have them here today; the playground looks beautiful now," said Josephine Parel-Fontbuena, Maria Ulloa Elementary School assistant principal. "Earlier it was really dull, but now because of the colors and new swing sets the children will be very happy. When the children come in [Tuesday] and see these, there will be smiles on their faces."

The community event was an initiative of Cope North 2012, a multinational exercise designed to enhance air operations between the U.S. Air Force, JASDF and the RAAF. Such events bring the services together and allow them to make their mark in the local community as well as learn things from one another.

"It's good to get to work with the Japanese and the U.S. Air Force because we learn from each other," said RAAF Cpl. Scott Dawson of the RAAF 1 Squadron. "We find out things we do differently and adapt, making it easy to work together."