A day with Troops for Trash

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Every second Saturday of the month rain or shine, volunteers gather by the Main Gate to enjoy a day of hiking up Buraksan Mountain and pick up trash as they go along.

Troops for Trash is run by the Korean American Partnership Association, a Korean government-sanctioned program that helps bring Koreans and Americans together in joint community projects.

This past Saturday, more than 100 volunteers showed up to hike though the Songton Entertainment District and up Buraksan Mountain. Volunteers of all ages can participate, and even pets. Volunteers were made up of Osan Airmen, soldiers from Camp Humphries, and Korean middle and high school students from the Youth for Christ Community Center. During the hike, we were able to meet and talk with some of the Korean students that wanted to practice their English.

My day with Troops for Trash started off by meeting with other volunteers directly in front of the Main Gate at 9 a.m. As soon as all the volunteers had trash bags, gloves and tongs to pick up trash with, we started our eight-mile hike from the Songtan Entertainment District. We went up and down the main street, and once we made sure all the trash was picked up in the area, we made our way toward the Songtan bus station.

Once we headed downtown by the bus station we made our way to the Songtan Middle School. The downtown area was busy with people going through their normal lives as we walked through the city. When we stopped at the middle school for a break, we recieved a quick history lesson by James Dunnet, Troops for Trash route guide.

After we were rested up, we began our hike up Buraksan Mountain. The mountain was beautiful and hiking it made for a great Saturday morning workout. There was not as much trash for us to pick up on the mountain which was great since we were then able to enjoy the scenery and talk with other volunteers that shared some of the same interests.

When we made it to the first clearing on the other side of the mountain, we stopped for a well-deserved lunch break at noon. KAPA provided our lunch of kimbap, chips, apples and bottled water.

When we were all done with our lunch, we continued picking up trash on a bicycle trail next to the mountain and started to make our way back to the Main Gate. We ended up filling 30 15-gallon trash bags by the end of our hike. We reached the Main Gate at 3 p.m. and were all tired after the long hike. After Dunnet took roll call to give each person credit and asked if we wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant for dinner as a courtesy from In Won Yi, a KAPA founder.

Overall, my day with Troops for Trash was great. I enjoyed a nice 8-mile hike, gave back to the community and made some new friends.

KAPA hosts other clean up events at Camp Humphries on the fourth Saturday of every month, at the Doolittle Gate here every third Saturday, and every morning at 6 a.m. by Bldg. 505. After 40 hours of volunteer time, a certificate and coin are presented to the volunteer and they are then made official KAPA members.