Moving its unit to El Cajon the California Army National Guard gets involved in community project

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Moving to El Cajon in September, members of the California Army National Guard spent Saturday cleaning up three parks in preparation for upcoming Fourth of July celebrations. 1st Sgt. Michael Mills, El Cajon Parks operation manager said the 60 service members were helping the city spruce up areas of Wells, Kennedy and Hillside parks.

Moving to El Cajon in September, members of the California Army National Guard spent Saturday cleaning up three parks in preparation for upcoming Fourth of July celebrations. 1st Sgt. Michael Mills, El Cajon Parks operation manager said the 60 service members were helping the city spruce up areas of Wells, Kennedy and Hillside parks.

“We have large event here at Kennedy Park, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people and they will help us with painting, tearing down an old fence the city is getting ready to replace, raking up leaves and debris, moving bleachers around and general cleanup at all three parks.

Andre McKindley said being part of the community is a big part of what they do.

“To build that bridge, make that bond is only going to help us in creating that relationship,” he said. “Come natural disaster, we can be sent anywhere, but if we have that flourished relationship with the city, we will be better able to serve our neighbors.”

Mckindley said they were here when the wildfires hit a couple of years ago and to have a relationship with agencies in cases like that makes the job easier and the outcome better.

“My whole purpose in participating in today’s event is that we have been involved in several wars through the past years, hopefully they are slowing down, but during that time the community has done nothing but give to the military,” he said. “They supported us with packages, donations, events for family while we were abroad and this is a way for us to give back.”

He said even though it might not have been his unit that received all the support, their community service spoke for all men and women in the military and the appreciation that they have for the community support.

“And what better place to do it than the place we are going to be calling home,” he said. 

Capt. Michael Han said the move will take place Sept. 1 and they are moving from brigade armory in Kearny Mesa, with a tiny office and not a place they can really call home.

“We are just one of many units there and it is hard to distinguish ourselves there,” he said.

Han said after the renovation of the armory in El Cajon, they fought placement there and won approval to move the unit to the new location.

“The reason we decided to do community service here now is so we can began to get to know everyone in the community, in case they ever need anything or we need something,” he said. “We are not only Army, but it is the California Army National Guard so it both federal and state.”

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