PULAU UBIN, Singapore --
Marines and Sailors volunteered several hours of their free time and several gallons of sweat to clean Pulau Ubin beach during a friendship-building project here.
The beach clean-up is one of three community relations projects being conducted by Marines and Sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Expeditionary Strike Group 3 during their port visit here this week. The 11th MEU and ESG-3 are embarked aboard USS Tarawa and are taking part in a scheduled six-month deployment through the Western Pacific Ocean and Arabian Gulf region.
The objective of the 10 Marines and 16 Sailors who volunteered was to make a tiny section of the beach look as beautiful as the rest of Singapore.
Pulau Ubin is located in the Johos Straits which separate Singapore and Malaysia. The beaches in the straits collect a large amount of rubbish from inhabitants and passing boats, said RPC Eugene Trinidad, religious program chief, Command Logistics Group, Western Pacific. Unfortunately, certain areas of the beach are sometimes neglected. That’s volunteer service members make such a big difference, he said.
Marines and Sailors worked side by side with members of Singapore’s National Environment Agency. They raked sand, picked up tires, metal, discarded ropes, sheets of plywood and even carried away a giant log.
“The neat thing about these opportunities is that it shows how much we are willing to help,” said RP2 Juan Bejarano, 11th MEU religious program specialist. It also helps foster friendship and camaraderie with the government and the local people. The next time a US vessel pulls into Singapore, they are more likely to treat U.S. service members as friends rather than strangers, he said.
After the clean-up, the Marines and Sailors relaxed in the shade and ate from their sack lunches. They looked across the sand to see the fruits of their labor. They saw locals walking along the beach. Some with their small children close at hand.
“It felt good doing this,” said Sgt. Marilyn Zeledon, data network specialist, communications section, command element, 11th MEU. Cleaning the beach was her way of giving back to the environment and a good way to thank the Singaporean people for their hospitality during their short visit, she said.