MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Children and staff from the Yahata Gakuen Children’s Home visited the air station to play, eat and swim with Marines and sailors from Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 at the WaterWorks outdoor pool, June 30, 2013.
When children arrived at the pool aboard station they discovered bouncy houses and Marines waiting for them with toys, food and smiles.
According to Lt. Alexander J. Cho, MWSS-171 chaplain and organizer of the children’s visit, it’s important for servicemembers to interact with Japanese children and show them Marines and sailors are here for support.
“They get to see that Americans really care for them,” said Cho. “Also, they are coming on a military base, so it gives them a very positive image about the (United States) military.”
The children intermingled with Marines and sailors through various activities such as soccer, football and arm wrestling.
“I saw the same kid from last year’s visit,” said Lance Cpl. Joey M. Pasillas, a MWSS-171 heavy equipment operator and event participant. “There is no communication whatsoever, but just doing activities like playing football or going swimming, I can see he is happy. It’s really amazing to change someone’s life and while I’m changing someone’s life, for even a day, my life is changed.”
Volunteers grilled hamburgers and hotdogs as children lined up with paper plates in their young, small hands waiting to be served.
With full stomachs, children were accompanied by Marines to enjoy the refreshing water of the pool for the remainder of the day.
According to Pasillas, not only did children have a positive effect on Marines and sailors, but servicemembers might have made a positive influence on some of the children and their views about the military.
“Just by facial expressions and how uplifted they were they seemed happy,” said Pasillas. “I think it gives a good view (of the U.S. military). I hope they think of this as a helping hand; to say, ‘hey, I care.’”