Soldiers from the Army 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry continued the work of their predecessors when they spent Sept. 29 planting native Hawaiian trees and shrubs at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.
The 15 soldiers are the latest from the Oahu-based 25th Infantry Division to support the cemetery. Since 2005, Schofield-based soldiers training at Pohakuloa have joined community volunteers to restore the dry land forest that used to flourish in the area.
On Sept. 29, their task was to plant native plants in a flat field of aa lava overlooking the cemetery. Each soldier got one small plant to put in the ground.
One of the soldiers who volunteered, Staff Sgt. Jo Cote, said she was happy to give something back to the community.
“I was fighting to get out here, to do something to let people know we appreciate their support,” Cote said.
When the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery was established in 1994, it was a dry, dusty and barren area. The once-vast Hawaiian dryland forest that surrounded it was gone, eaten away by wild goats.
The reforestation began in 2005 as a joint effort of the University of Hawaii, veterans groups, schools, community organizations and active duty military and civilian volunteers from PTA. To date more than 10,000 native plants have been planted on the hill overlooking the cemetery.
For more information, call Public Affairs Officer Bob McElroy at 969-2427.