Story and photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs
KAILUA — As the Blue Angels soared in performance across Kaneohe Bay, a different group of angels shared the skies above the sleepy Windward Oahu town of Kailua.
Nearly 20 Soldiers from the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, joined military and civilian law enforcement personnel from across the Hawaiian Islands for three straight days – day and night – on top of a 14-foot scaffolding that gives the 11th annual “Cop on Top” Special Olympics fundraiser its name at the Aikahi Shopping Center here, Sept. 28-30.
“Cop on Top is a Special Olympics fundraiser where cops and military police eat, breathe and live on top of scaffolding for three straight days, day and night … for Special Olympics Hawaii,” said Jen Ernst, central Honolulu area director for Special Olympics Hawaii.
Through the rain, humidity and heat, and under the sun and the full moon, the Soldiers in Kailua provided visible assistance for Special Olympics athletes on the Windward side of the island. Donations throughout the year provide complete support of the organization’s athletes and competitions.
While Special Olympics Hawaii counts on support from across the islands, the Kailua site would have been facing a crisis if the 8th MP Bde. didn’t heed a volunteer call to provide manpower assistance with slightly more than a week to coordinate a plan.
“The Marines had to drop out of the site because of the air show the same weekend, and we were in desperate need for cops,” said Ernst.
Master Sgt. Charlene Reilley, rear detachment commander, 39th MP Det., 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Bde., heeded the call for volunteers.
Initially, three of Reilley’s Soldiers volunteered the weekend, but soon the three turned into six, then nine, and eventually her entire detachment volunteered — many finding a few hours to volunteer in between work shifts.
“I was really impressed with my guys for stepping up, but there’s a lot of Soldiers willing to help if they’re just asked,” said Reilley.
While the Soldiers impressed Ernst with their ability to learn and participate in Cop on Top, the athletes who stood side by side with her Soldiers truly inspired Reilley and her Soldiers.
“We talk a lot about resiliency in the Army, but these guys have the odds stacked against them, but yet, every simple thing makes them happy,” said Reilley. “These unsung heroes set an example for all of us on how to live.”
As the three-day event came to a close, everything from jets flying overhead to a local charity group that dresses up in “Star Wars” characters visited the site, but the one thing that stood fast were the Soldiers and the athletes.
“We all came here for a common goal. We worked together as a community,” said Reilley. “We realized we’re all part of one team.”