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Dicemen maintainers better Guam, selves, through community service

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, deployed here from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, have been spending their time bettering the local community of Guam through various volunteer efforts.

Since their arrival in January in support of the F-22 Raptor Theater Security Package, the maintainers have volunteered a total of more than 800 hours of community service, according to Senior Master Sgt. Raymond DeVite, 90th AMU chief enlisted manager.

Many of these hours come from volunteer work that the AMU Airmen do at Machananao Elementary School, where they tutor children in third to fifth grade for three hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

"We got into the school tutoring program by talking with the school administrators and getting a list of available opportunities for volunteering," said Capt. Mary Lent, 90th AMU officer in charge. "We ran the ideas by the Airmen and got a lot of interest on the tutoring program."

On average, six Airmen a day take use their free time to attend the three hour tutoring session that begins at 2 p.m.

"It's a good feeling to be able to get out in the community and help out these kids in need," said Airman 1st Class Eric Johannas, 36th EAMXS weapons loader. "Anytime we can get out there and help out, even if it's something as simple as helping with their math or just being a good role model, its worth it."

Airman Johannas has volunteered at the school multiple times since the 36th EAMXS began tutoring the children.

"We have been working with the school every week since I believe mid-February, and the feedback we are getting form the Airmen going out and the children they are working with has been nothing but positive," Captain Lent said.

The Airmen have also been working with the schools keep the children in shape by helping with the schools physical fitness program.

"Every Friday a group of [Airmen] go out to the schools to help keep the kids fit and interested in staying healthy," said Master Sgt. Nelson Wolfmeier, 36 EAMXS. "We do all kinds of thing to keep the kids active, from sports to conducting an Air Force PT test with them. We are trying to get them interested in being fit at a young age."

The Dicemen maintainers also worked with the local AAFES facilities to donate more than 750 dollars worth of school supplies to Machananao Elementary.

More than 65 Airmen from the 36th EAMXS volunteered at Guam's 2009 Special Olympics that was held at Okkodo High School March 14.

During the event, the Airmen helped set up and break down after the competition, and coached some of the participants throughout the event, which provided local community members with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to continue developing physical fitness and an active lifestyle.

"The event was a great success, all the participants seemed to really enjoy themselves, and when they got their medals, that was just icing on the cake for them" said Senior DeVite.

The Airmen of the 36th EAMXS have done all this while still keeping the Air Forces premier fighter, the F-22 Raptor, in the air.

"We have been putting up aircraft at a much higher rate than we do back home, and [these Airmen] are not only keeping the birds in the air and staying out of trouble, but helping out in the community as well," Senior DeVite said. "These are some wonderful Airmen that have done great things since they have gotten here, and we still have a month left,"

The maintainers are currently working with the Guam Animals In Need animal shelter to set up a volunteer schedule, where the Airmen will do everything from walking and playing with the animals, to feeding and cleaning up after them.

"All of these things are completely voluntary, there is no pressure from leadership to participate," Senior DeVite said, "That's just the class of Airmen we have here with us, they stay out of trouble and help the community they are in."

The 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and associated maintenance personnel's three month deployment to the Pacific will come to a close Mid-April.