“You have to pick it up, we can’t just leave it there,” yelled Spc. Ben Kennedy, Team 3 leader, from the pickup truck’s window.
“If it was a bigger animal, we would have had to call the sanitation department on Bragg to come remove it,” explained Kennedy.
As for Hatfield, he continued down the shoulder of the busy street, picking up debris and trash drivers nonchalantly throw out their windows as they zoom by.
Kennedy, Hatfield, Conzelman and 18 other Soldiers are part of the team that keeps Fort Bragg looking nice yearlong. For a month, they will be part of the post police call, and they will spend their days picking up other people’s trash.
“We have six teams who are dispersed around Fort Bragg and now, Pope (Field). They are responsible for keeping Bragg looking good,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Eric Jensen, the police call detail noncommissioned officer in charge. “This month will basically be groundhog day for these guys. They check in here, get their equipment, check their trucks and head on their routes. We are responsible for not only Bragg and Pope, but the post cemetery and Lamont Landfill as well.”
The six teams roam around the installation, hitting both the North and South Post Exchanges, the Mini Mall, Soldier Support Center, the Polo Field, Hendrick Stadium and the many roads in between locations.
Each month, a different unit assigned to XVIII Airborne Corps, is tasked to fill the important, yet daunting detail. The 1st Brigade Combat Team is responsible for the month of April, and even though most of the Soldiers admitted that they were “volun-told” to do the detail, they ensure their job of trash detail is done to standard.
“Hatfield!” Kennedy yelled out the window, pointing towards a chips bag. “You missed a Doritos bag.”
Each team is divided so that one specialist is in charge of lower enlisted. The specialist will drive the trucks behind or in between the Soldiers picking up trash to ensure the safety of the Soldiers along side the busy streets.
“We have a sergeant major who drives around and checks out our areas of responsibility.
Sometimes weekends are included as part of the detail. Jensen explained that the tasking sometimes involves cleaning up after big events that have been hosted on Fort Bragg, for example the Fourth of July celebration that is held annually at the Main Post Parade Field.
“Just the other day, a couple of guys and I found a car frame on the side of Bragg,” laughed Kennedy. “We had to load it up on the back of the truck and take it to the landfill.”
Also reported being found during the details were wallets, ammunition, handguns, spice and marijuana, and hazardous materials. Protocol on finding such items involves third parties getting involved such as the provost marshal, the military police, the Environmental Department, and the ammunition supply point. Other strange items found are clothing and pornography.
“It’s amazing what we find out there,” said Hatfield. “I ask myself, ‘Why would someone throw this stuff out and how?’ We were just talking about this the other day. If someone gets fined for littering or something, they should have to do this detail.”
Kennedy turned up the rock music playing on the radio as they headed back to Fort Bragg for lunch and added, “It definitely makes you think twice when you flick your cigarette out the window.”