146AW CES members volunteer in the spirit of Aloha
By Airman 1st Class Ashley Ramirez, 146AW
/ Published June 16, 2010
BARBERS POINT, Hawaii -- Members of the 146th AW Channel Islands Civil Engineering Squadron participated in a beach clean-up project at Laniakea Beach, located on Oahu's North Shore, June 11 and June 13, 2010, during their annual deployment for training. The Airmen worked with the local non-profit organization "Malama nu Honu," Hawaiian meaning "Care for the Turtles," to pick up trash along a beach that the endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles frequent.
Approximately 13 Airmen from CE took time out of their three-day weekend to participate in the beach clean-up project. The volunteer project organized by Master Sgt. Don Simmons, was a way for members to see another side of the island of Oahu. Starting at 9 a.m., the volunteers combed the beach, picking up everything they could find from empty water bottles, fishing line and cigarette butts. The clean-up will benefit the endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, a threatened species that everyday beach themselves on the shores to bask after feeding.
Staff Sgt. Faye May, a member of the 146th CE Squadron, volunteered her time and said she was surprised at how close the "Honu" swam up to her as she walked in the water.
"I'm glad I did it," she said. "Being from Louisiana, I have seen turtles before but nothing like this."
Sgt. Faye said that when the Airmen first came to the beach, it was hard to see the turtles, they almost looked like rocks. However, the more time the group spent on the beach, the more turtles beached themselves along the shore, allowing the Airmen and other patrons of Laniakea to enjoy the animals.
Volunteer worker Noelle Shaughnessy has worked with the organization "Malama nu Honu" for nearly two years. She said that originally she decided to work as a "Honu Guardian" after her husband, who is in the Army, got deployed and she wanted to find new hobbies while being alone on the island. Shaughnessy said the non-profit group, mainly working out of Laniakea Beach, focuses on protecting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles through education, public awareness and conservation.
"Our main goal is to make sure that tourists are getting the experience [of seeing turtles] without harming their natural behavior," she said.
Through education and the constant volunteering of almost 60 members, the "Malama nu Honu" workers hope that eventually their efforts will teach tourists and residents to respect the endangered turtles. They want to ensure people are educated about the importance of giving the turtles the space they need to flourish in their natural setting. Sgt. May also said that while volunteering she learned many things she never knew about the ocean and the turtles.
"I learned that before recycling to cut the aluminum cans, because they can get caught on the turtles and they can't swim," she said. "There is also new fishing line that won't get caught in the turtles' mouth."
The beach clean-up project, organized by Master Sgt. Don Simmons, was a way for the members of the 146th CE Squadron to give back to the Hawaiian community while being deployed for two weeks.
"I wanted to step outside the box," Simmons said on why he chose a beach clean-up on "Turtle Beach," as the locals call it. "We wanted to do something for the community and say thank you to them for allowing the military to be here and also help out the environment."