MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Sailors from 23rd Dental Company understand the importance of service overseas as well as at home. They demonstrated their care for the community by volunteering to help a local military retiree April 2, 2011.
The volunteer event came about after Senior Chief Kevin Edwards, the senior enlisted leader for the 23rd Dental Co., saw a U. S. Navy flag flying outside a Twentynine Palms home owned by Ronald Lee Rich, a retired master chief who is elderly and in a wheelchair. Edwards noticed Rich’s yard could use a little sprucing up. Motivated by the retired sailor’s continued dedication to the military, Edwards enlisted the help of other volunteer sailors and approached Rich and offered to lend a hand. Rich didn’t want to impose but humbly accepted their offer.
“This was above and beyond the call,” said Rich.
Seven volunteers arrived in good spirits and ready to help Rich.
“[Volunteering] is always good to see because not only do we serve the country but we live in the community,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Francis Paje, a corpsman with the 23rd Dental Co. “It is what we are all about, not just helping over there but back home as well.”
After loading palm tree branches onto a trailer, they began cutting up a fallen tree covered in thorns, which had crushed Rich’s fence. With much struggle, the sailors pushed on and managed to remove all but the tree stump.
While some worked on the tree, other volunteers helped Rich’s wife, Judy Lynne Rich, plant flowers at the base of the flag pole and pull weeds in front of the house.
“She had laid out the flowers, and I figured, why not? I’m sure she enjoyed the help and I enjoy doing it,” said Katarina Worthy, a dental assistant with the 23rd Dental Company.
They finished the job by pulling down vines from the fence before heading to the back porch, where Judy had lunch ready.
The hungry crew feasted on a large pot of macaroni salad, hot dogs, chips and refreshments.
As everyone enjoyed their well-earned meal and relaxed on the shaded porch on the sunny afternoon, Edwards and Rich discussed how Edwards could contact and help other military retirees in the future.