With Military Precision, Hawai’i National Guard Cleans
Diamond Head During COVID Shutdown
Cassandra Springer, Diamond Head State Park Interpretive Technician
Hawaii’s most popular state park features stunning views and historic remnants of coastal artillery defenses.
Hawaii’s most popular state park features stunning views and historic remnants of coastal artillery defenses. So when COVID-19 shut down the Diamond Head State Monument, members of the Hawaii National Guard stepped up.
The Guard has been headquartered in Fort Ruger for over seventy years. During pre-COVID days, they were witnesses to the crowds packing the park and forming the daily ant trail of hikers.
Since its shutdown in mid-March, the crater was empty and peaceful. So the neighbors banded together for what amounted to a long overdue spring cleaning.
As the Diamond Head Technician, I met with Col. Pamela Ellison and her team a couple of weeks before to plan the clean-up.
We were all on the same page. The Hawaii National Guard wanted to help State Parks with projects to maintain the crater during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having the opportunity to assist in the clean-up at Diamond Head State Monument, our work “neighborhood”, while maintaining our positive relationship with DLNR, was an amazing and rewarding experience that we hope can continue for many years to come,” said Hawaii National Guard 1LT Kuhinapuitetamalai Naki.
The date was set was set for June 27, 2020 from 8am to 1pm. The participants were split into seven teams and performed with military precision. The rappelling teams swooped up and down the steep summit to pick up trash. The buzz of chain saws temporarily broke the serenity as trees that were blocking the sight of the helipad from the HFD for rescues were removed. Trail cleaners cut invasive trees and grass while trail runners carried down old cement bags and paint cans. On their return they brought water up to keep everyone hydrated.
Since there were about 80 people in total this helped with social distancing, and masks were required if social distancing was not feasible. (The masks also helped with working in dusty/dirty conditions.) They cleaned debris in two levels inside of the Fire Control Station, cleaned and re-painted the insides of both bunkers to the left and right of the FCS, and cleaned up the inside of the storage room at the bottom of the infamous 99 steps. Decades of dust and debris were removed, a job well done to help preserve world famous Diamond Head State Monument.