Going along with White Sands Missile Range Command Sgt. Maj. William Maddox’s “Slim Eagle” message, one local Soldier took it upon himself to take the lead and clean up the San Augustin rest area off of Highway 70.
“I’m in awe that someone would take on such a major task and have that much pride and ownership in their installation,” said WSMR Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. William Wofford. “I encourage the WSMR community to take on this initiative and help maintain the beauty of the installation.”
Sgt. 1st Class Wacinque Bemende spearheaded an initiative to start a group he called the “Rhinos,” after his favorite animal, and attempted to recruit people to help clean the San Augustin rest area with information about WSMR on display. He wanted to conduct the cleanup in conjunction with Las Cruces’ Keep Las Cruces Beautiful and New Mexico Clean and Beautiful programs 21st annual Toss No Mas citywide cleanup on Oct. 17. Even though Bemende said he was not able to recruit a team, he still went out on his own and cleaned up from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bemende collected seven trash bags full of waste within that one area.
“I’ve been a volunteer for 40 years. Keep America Beautiful is one of those things I volunteer for,” Bemende said.
Bemende said he had been a part of the day of cleanup before and was happy to start doing it here at WSMR. Last year, the citywide cleanup brought in 1,100 volunteers and collected more than 15 tons of litter from 65 local groups and organizations. Wofford said he will be working with Bemende to make the cleanup an ongoing project.
“This is just a continued tradition I’ve had in my 40 years of service,” Bemende said. “It needed to be done and I did it.”
Bemende was transferred to WSMR from Fort Bliss, Texas where he served as a Senior Human Resource NCO just under a month ago. Bemende was transferred to lead special projects for WSMR Command Sgt. Maj. William Maddox and, since his arrival a little less than a month ago, he hit the ground running.
“My church was involved in the community and there were needs in the community that needed to be addressed,” Bemende said. “As a young church member it made an impression on me. I just decided I would be that person and I’ve done that for 40 years.”
Bemende said his 40 years of volunteering consisted of a lot of hours with the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Big Brothers and Big Sister program. Bemende said at one point he was even a Big Brother.
“It just makes it a perfect fit to be able to do these types of things. It’s funny how it all works out,” Bemende said.
If you wish to volunteer contact Sgt. 1st Class Wacinque Bemende at (915) 228-8849.