Development and Training Flight beautifies bus stops on Guam

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Keith
  • 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
Nine months ago, the Pacific Air Forces flight chief for Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Services here gave a personnelist with the 44th Aerial Port Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, an assignment to do something outstanding with their Development and Training Flight (D&TF), letting him know up front that no funding was available.


Senior Master Sgt. Carl Nixon told Staff Sgt. Shinohara it was up to him to decide on a project that would challenge the DT&F Airmen. The purpose of the D&TF program is to prepare new recruits for Air Force Basic Military Training.


Shinohara, a senior airman at the time acting as a recruiter liaison and temporary D&TF program manager, passed Nixon's request to the "newbies," giving them ownership of "the mission." He told them to brainstorm community service activities that would accomplish four things: give back to the community; have a long-term effect; incorporate Air Force core values; and express their individuality as service members.


The D&TF Airmen chose to adopt a bus stop in the village of Mangilao, Guam, as part of the Lieutenant Governor of Guam's Islandwide Beautification Task Force.


The perception of painting bus stops was that it would be a waste of time because it would just get vandalized, said Airman 1st Class Leodith Abinales, one of the trainees assigned to the 44th APS and currently attending Air Force basic training.


The bus stop they chose was dull, covered in graffiti and smelled like urine, said Shinohara.


Shinohara said it quickly hit the young Airmen how unfortunate it was for the kids who had to wait there for their bus to come each day. He said the Airmen felt it was their duty to make things right.


"Bus stops are a symbol of education; it's the first point where you begin your journey as a student," said Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Untalan. Untalan, who recently finished basic training and technical training school and is now an air transportation apprentice with the 44th APS, said, "You meet others in your neighborhood, make friends . . . these encounters at the bus stop can have a huge affect on a child's day at school."


When he first took over the flight as an additional duty, Shinohara said he asked the new Airmen why they joined the Air Force. "I realized every trainee did it for personal gain to reap the benefits--education, training, retirement, base privileges. Shinohara said he decided the best way to introduce them to the Air Force culture was to teach them the Air Force core values--Integrity First; Service before Self; and Excellence in All We Do--by putting them into action.


"It was my way to give them a more meaningful reason for being in the Air Force," said Shinohara.


While the new Airmen were painting the bus stop, more than 20 cars passed by and thanked them for making a difference, looking out for the kids and beautifying their island, he said.


Leodith said, "The people who stopped by to thank us made it even more worth it because it showed people cared about the kids."


"By decorating this important meeting place, it not only looks appealing but creates a positive welcoming vibe," said Untalan. "Biba Guam [Hip hip hooray, Guam]!" he said.


Shinohara said that at the end of the day, the flight learned that serving their country meant more than picking up a weapon and going to war. "Service before self" meant also serving their home island and giving back. Shinohara said the smiles and accomplished looks the Airman had proved that adopting a bus stop was a great idea.


"Man--awesome weekend! I feel accomplished," said Airman 1st Class Cinda Elliott, an air transportation apprentice with the 44th APS.


"Epic weekend! I loved it!" Leodith said. "The people who stopped by to thank us made it even more worthwhile because it showed people cared about the kids."


"This selfless act helped build character which I believe will groom them to be the leaders of tomorrow in our Air Force," said Shinohara.


Airman 1st Class Kali Cruz, an air transportation apprentice with the 44th APS, said she loved it, too. "It felt good to do something like that," she said.


Eight months later, D&TF has adopted two more bus stops and has another one they will start working on soon.


"To say the least I was extremely impressed," said Nixon. He said he was fortunate to work with an Airman like Shinohara.