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Giving Mother Nature a helping hand

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A young volunteer lends a helping hand to Mother Nature and plants an acacia tree in the soil along Cetti Bay, June 20. Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron and their families teamed up with the Department of Agriculture to plant more than 1,000 acacia trees in an effort to stave off erosion of soil which has been causing damage to the coral and marine life of the bay. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A young volunteer lends a helping hand to Mother Nature and plants an acacia tree in the soil along Cetti Bay, June 20. Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron and their families teamed up with the Department of Agriculture to plant more than 1,000 acacia trees in an effort to stave off erosion of soil which has been causing damage to the coral and marine life of the bay. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Volunteers plant 1,000 acacia trees among the mountainous terrain of Cetti Bay, June 20. Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron teamed up with the Department of Agriculture in an effort to stave off the erosion of soil which has been damaging coral in the bay. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Volunteers plant 1,000 acacia trees among the mountainous terrain of Cetti Bay, June 20. Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron teamed up with the Department of Agriculture in an effort to stave off the erosion of soil which has been damaging coral in the bay. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron made a positive impact on Guam's ecosystem by planting more than 1,000 trees in Cetti Bay, June 19.

The 644th CBCS teamed up with the Guam Department of Agriculture in an effort to stave off erosion of soil which has been washing into the bay and damaging the coral reefs. Red clay minerals within the soil cover the coral preventing their main source of energy, sunlight, from reaching them.

"You get a sense of purpose from planting these trees once you've seen first-hand the damage erosion can have of the ecosystem," said Rudy Estoy, Dept. of Agriculture forester.

The location where the tree planting occurred required an hour hike across a mile of mountainous terrain to reach.

Sixteen members of the 644th CBCS, five locals and eight Dept. of Agriculture foresters divided into teams of three to four, each team carrying 100 trees. One member would punch a hole into the earth with a metal rod, another would drop a special fertilizer into the hole and the last would plant the tree.

"We have a couple of mottos within the 644," said Col. Gary Hayward, 644th CBCS commander. "One is '644, Ready for War!' but the other is '644 can do!' The folks and their families out here are definitely showing their can-do spirit by spending their Saturday helping to preserve the environment."

Though the work could be classified as a "dirty job," it doesn't deter volunteers as the project has been a big hit within the squadron. They've doubled the number of volunteers from their previous visits to the area.

"This wasn't something I really had to push or advertise," said Capt. Jason Brown, 644th CBCS chief of communications, who spearheaded the event. "Word of mouth from people who has done it before said they had a great time and our numbers grew."

In the end, many volunteers said helping with the project was more than just another volunteer bullet. It was their chance to make a difference in something much bigger than themselves.

"This is a great opportunity for us to come out and pay back to the community," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Nielson, 644th CBCS heating ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration technician. "It's one thing to keep your house clean, but we should always strive to help out our neighbors and protect Mother Nature's pristine ecosystem."

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