Freemantle, AUSTRALIA (NNS) – Sailors attached to the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and USS Preble (DDG 88) volunteered at the Native Arc Wildlife reserve center in Freemantle, Australia June 27, 2015.
Sailors were treated to tea and cookies upon arrival, and shown a variety of animals including snakes, lizards, and baby kangaroos, or “joeys.”
“This was the best way to spend my afternoon,” said Operations Specialist 3rd class Austin Burris, from Indianapolis, Indiana, assigned to Preble, “Not only did we all get to help out a great cause in rebuilding the reserve, but I’ve also gotten to see and hold animals I never thought I would. The park attendants are wonderful people and also the young Australian Navy cadets. Relaxing is always better with a hard day’s work under your belt, and knowing we helped create a better environment for orphaned and recovering animals makes it even nicer.”
The park instructors delivered an educational brief about wildlife in Australia and why it is important organizations like theirs exist, citing the industrialization of their country as the main reason.
With nature reserves like Native Arc, animals in Australia will always have a place to go when they are injured, sick, or orphaned.
After morning tea, the brief and a special viewing of the animals, the Sailors commenced work on the park doing things like removing debris, building enclosures, painting sheds, and much more.
Working alongside the U.S. Navy Sailors were Australian Navy Cadets, who were working toward their community service ribbon.
Although young in age, the cadets had many questions pertaining to military service and showed an interest in learning about life on a warship.
“We were looking forward to seeing the Americans almost more than the wildlife,” said Australian Navy Cadet Kyle Manning, a Freemantle native. “It’s been all over the news here in Freemantle. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the ships pull in. They were so massive and they carried planes! I’m really happy I got to meet those guys.”
Towards the end of the day the park keepers of Native Arc treated the Sailors to a barbeque lunch and a heartfelt “thank you” speech.
“I really can’t tell you how much you’ve guys helped us today,” said Native Arc park keeper Daniel Bonnie, “Every time the Navy comes into town you guys volunteer here and do something that would take us 6 months to do in one afternoon. With no funding from the government, your visits really do breathe life into the reserve. I know you could’ve been out it town shopping, but you chose to be here with us, working in the hot sun. We really do appreciate it.”