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Airmen rid Eglin of graffiti

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFMCNS) -- The message was clear to anyone passing by. Scrawled in what looked like white chalk on the dingy cement wall of a past bus stop in front of the East Gate chapel read:

The f---ers are still here.

In his 11 ½ years in the Air Force, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Winn, First Term Airmen Center NCOIC, had never seen anything like this anonymous and pointless phrase. And the things surrounding it were worse, prompting him to muster a group of students to help renew the tainted bus stop.

“It seemed ‘high schoolish,’” Sergeant Winn said of the numerous vulgarities and sexual references on the bus stop wall. “The majority of it was like that. It was all throughout the entire bus stop, literally.”

What perplexed Sergeant Winn even more was that nothing was ever said about the literally cursed bus stop he and his students noticed while giving a base tour on Oct. 12.

“Everybody thinks on an Air Force Base, stuff like that doesn’t happen,” Sergeant Winn contended, “but it does.”

“It was terrible,” said Airman 1st Class Kary Stringham, one of the group who helped paint the bus stop. “It had every nasty word you can imagine. It was very vulgar and needed painting, and I didn’t mind doing it. It’s embarrassing that someone belonging to this institution would do that.”

Taking matters into his own hands, Sergeant Winn proposed a possible team-building project for his five students and FTAC team leader, Staff Sgt. Clay Mathews.

The commander’s information office complied and supplied the material, and the group of seven knocked out the project in about an hour. Among the seven were Sergeant Winn, Sergeant Mathews, Airman Stringham, Airman 1st Class Latoyah Moore, Airman 1st Class James Lewis, Airman 1st Class Christopher Myers and Airman 1st Class Monica Lassiter.

“It was a great time and even built some camaraderie,” Sergeant Winn said. “That hour or so away from duty was well worth it.”

Now, Sergeant Winn said he and his students are on the lookout for other types of clean-up projects.

Asked what his response would be to new phrases popping up on the now gleaming bus stop wall, Airman Stringham said, “It would make me extremely angry. If it needed to be painted again, I’d do it. It’s not that it took that long, it’s just that you would think people on this base would respect things a little more.”