JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING -- Eyes were wide and mouths agape as third, fourth and fifth grade students watched the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team spin, flip and toss their 11-pound M-1 rifles in a precision drill performance at Belvedere Elementary School in Falls Church, Va., Nov. 26.
After the performance, members of the Drill Team joined more than 40 fifth graders to plant trees and shrubs in Belvedere Park, which is next to the school. The trees and shrubs were donated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, but the hard work was accomplished by the children and the Airmen.
"This collaboration between Belvedere Elementary School, the Drill Team and the Fairfax County Park Authority illustrates one of the many ways the service members at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling maintain a strong commitment to the environment and to the local community," said Capt. Alex Stanton, the Drill Team flight commander. "When I found out that the students of Belvedere Elementary use the park as an outdoor classroom, I saw an opportunity to make a lasting impression on their lives by performing our drill routine for them and then immediately partnering with them on a service project."
The park used to be nothing more than a few acres of trees and thick underbrush which collected whatever garbage the wind blew its way, but it is transforming into a useful space for play and learning with every ounce of effort the children and community put into it.
"The one-on-one interaction was a great chance to get to know the students personally," Stanton said. "Hopefully as each student watches their tree grow, they will remember the Airman that helped them plant it."
These visits are as important to the Drill Team members as they are the children, according to Staff Sgt. Hunter Overton, Elite Drill Team member.
"It's really exciting to perform for these kids," Overton said. "It's like we are all superheroes the whole time we're there. It's a great experience to see their enthusiasm for the environment as we help them reclaim the park."