Kunsan dedicates memorial garden to Air Force veterans, families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jesenia Landaverde
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A layer of sawdust covers discarded equipment, wood chips pile up as planks groan through a sander, and grime develops under the nails of Airmen’s hands as they devote time and sweat to honor the fallen, the veterans, and the family of past and present.

The idea of building a memorial garden originated from the appreciation of the Wolf Pack’s approximate three thousand-strong retiree and widow community, living outside the gates of Kunsan Air Base.

After nearly a month of volunteer work, the idea came to fruition when Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Schaeffer II, 8th Fighter Wing command chief, hosted the dedication ceremony for the Kunsan Air Base Legacy Garden, Sept 8, 2021.

“It’s not evident to anyone who sees this garden now, but our Airmen had to be innovative when it came to securing materials to pull this thing off,” said Col. Robert Bartlow, 8th Mission Support Group commander. “Not only did they volunteer out of their own time, but they successfully innovated a physical reminder of the sacrifice, and foundation, veterans laid down, and the legacy we carry on in their honor.”

The 8th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Tech. Sgt. Shannon Beavins, project manager, and Staff Sgt. William Criswell, project designer, took lead in building the pergola and platform for the garden.
“When we were approached with this concept, we started to draw and design this flower garden, and came up with a pergola with a flower bed under it,” said Beavins. “We knew where we could find unused wood, and through the Air Force we had the tools, knowledge and Airmen to make this happen in such a short time.”

With the help of 25 volunteers, Beavins and Criswell used one thousand pounds of old unused wood pallets and refurbished them. They dedicated over 300 hours and saved $5,000 by using recycled materials.

“I appreciate all the work that went into this, everyone here had a hand in it,” Schaeffer said. “This garden is now a sacred spot where service members can all reflect on what they have given to the military; what those who came before us gave, whether [they’re] retired or [paid] the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Wolf Pack, dedicated to the motto of “Mission, Team, Heritage,” will continue to uphold the traditions, missions and legacies of those who came before.