A large anchialine pond is once again visible, attracting dragonflies and other pollinators to the bounty of flora at Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona.
Active duty soldiers with the Oahu-based U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division preparing for training at Pohakuloa Training Area descended upon the path at Old Kona Airport Park on Friday and Saturday to give back to the Big Island community by providing some much-needed muscle and care to the site’s main anchialine pond.
The troops, like their predecessors who first restored the brackish water pool a decade before, battled through a thick, well-rooted carpet of pickleweed and other unwanted plants to reveal the natural pond that’s fed by seawater that seeps in underground through porous rock and mixes with surface water.
The 2nd IBCT, 25th ID trains at Pohakuloa about once per year, and anytime its solders come to hone their skills at the training facility situated between the Maunakea and Mauna Loa, they all make an effort to give back to the island. The division deploys anywhere in the world in support of land operations.
“We like to use the Pohakuloa Training Area, there’s great facilities up there,” said Capt. Mike Tougher, the officer in charge of the weekend mission at Makaeo in coordination with nonprofit Friends For Fitness. “And, every time we come to the Big Island, we like to do a community service event just to give back and say, ‘thank you,’ for letting us use the training area up there.”
To ensure safety amid the pandemic, the division’s members are frequently tested and quarantine after travel. The event followed state Department of Health and CDC guidelines by limiting the number of soldiers each day and requiring every one to wear a mask and practice social distancing, despite being outdoors, said Major Jimmy Sheehan, 2nd IBCT, 25th ID Public Affairs Officer.
“It’s a little, small ‘bubble’ event. We come out, do our thing and go back,” he said.