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ACE has largest turnout ever for Gate 2 clean up

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jeremy McGuffin
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Cold rainy weather didn't stop more than 100 committed Kadena Air Base volunteers from cleaning up the Gate 2 Street area in Okinawa City on February 3. 

The Airmen Committed to Excellence organization sponsored the event to give back to the local Okinawan community. 

"Gate 2 is a busy shopping and hangout area," said Master Sgt Richard Howell, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Inspection Section Chief. "If we hang out there we might as well clean up after ourselves." 

This was the largest turnout ACE has had for the event, so the clean-up area was broadened to cover BC street, which runs parallel to Gate 2 Street. 

"I was a little overwhelmed with the turnout and excited too," said Senior Airman Joseph Schmermund, 18th Communications Squadron and event organizer for the past two years. 

"I took the opportunity to use the numbers and widen our cleaning area. I'm glad we had high numbers, and I encourage anyone to come out and volunteer, even if you're not an ACE member. It's a great way to give back to the community," said Airman Schmermund. 

When asked why people came out on a wet Sunday to pick up trash most replied with the same answer, "It needed to be cleaned up." 

"I enjoy getting involved with base organizations like ACE," said Senior Airman Whitney Slayton, 18th Services Squadron. "When I heard there was a volunteer opportunity that helped make the local community cleaner, I jumped on the chance to help." 

Even Gate 2 Street shop owners recognized the service members and came out to shake hands and thank them for cleaning up. 

"It's good to see the Americans coming out to clean up the area," said Mr. Moorjani, owner of Envy bar Penneys. 

"Everyone shops and has a good time here, but no one really thinks about the trash they leave behind after the weekend. It not only helps the entire district, but shows the Japanese people that you appreciate the businesses and establishments off base," said Mr. Moorjani. 

The cleanup of Gate 2 Street has become a monthly event for ACE. Airman Schmermund encourages everyone, whether they are in ACE, involved in another base organization, or just like volunteering, to come out and make Okinawa just a little bit cleaner.