MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan -- When 25 children from the Akebono-ryo, in Nasake-jima, woke up Saturday morning, they were promised a trip to see some familiar faces and have a fun-filled day.
That's exactly what they got, when they arrived on station and were greeted by the Branch Medical Clinic staff. There was also a barbecue and a place to stay cool at the Main Outdoor Pool waiting for them.
"We made three trips to see them in Nasake-jima last year," said Lt.j.g. Gino Narte, Urgent Care Center division officer. "This time we decided to bring them here."
The children's ages vary from infants to early teenagers, and all are members of Akebono-ryo, a home for orphans and children from broken homes.
After eating hamburgers, hot dogs and other goodies the children and medical staff swarmed the gate at the pool-ready to take the plunge.
According to Michiko Ichiyama, Akebono care provider, Japanese children tend to be very shy and don't know how to speak English, but they do enjoy the pool.
Even though it seemed the day was meant for the children, BMC personnel also had a good time swimming and playing with their guests.
"This program is also a morale booster for the clinic, because everyone enjoys the children's company," said Seaman Apprentice Brandon Johnston, a BMC corpsman from Wauconda, ill. "There's a majority of the clinic here who volunteered their time."
The Akebono care providers enjoy the visits, because the BMC staff is contributing their time to the children.
"This is the first time the children have ever been to the base, and they really enjoy the Sailors' company," said Ichiyama. "I don't think the children will ever forget what they've done for them today."
During the day some of the children and two of the BMC corpsmen showed off at the diving board-trying to see who could make the biggest splash.
"I like showing kids how to have a good time, especially the little ones," said Seaman Ryan Brod, a BMC corpsman from Las Vegas, Nev. "I like bringing them here, because instead of just showing up, you get to show them where you live and interact with them more."
By the end of the day, the children had grown closer to their foreign friends and the medical personnel were sad to see them go.
"I think it's a great thing to do, because they'll remember this," Johnston said. "Some are shy, but by the end of the day, they grew pretty attached to us."