MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The Japan Good Deeds Association presented awards to representatives from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 during their 65th Spring Commendation Ceremony at the Meiji Jingu Gathering Hall in Tokyo, Japan, May 23, 2015.
The Good Deeds Association recognized service members with H&HS and VMGR-152 for their assistance with the Iwakuni City Volunteer Council in August 2014, after heavy rains caused a destructive mudslide that became further aggravated by Typhoon Halong.
“The Good Deeds Association is an organization trying to recognize people or groups for their good conduct in support of the Japanese community and by recognizing those groups we hope good conduct will spread,” said Minoru Niguma, a member of the executive board of the Japan Good Deeds Association.“We are very honored to berecognizing groups that are foreigners to Japan. They’re not native to Japanbut are still doing wonderful things for the community, so we felt their actions should be made aware of.”
Typhoon Halong, a Category 5 Super Typhoon, made contact with mainland Japan, August 9, 2014. The typhoon caused landslides, mudslides and flooding that tragically killed and injured locals and left damage to land and property.
Service members volunteered their time to lend a helping hand to the local community during the cleanup of Typhoon Halong's aftermath.
Sgt. Carlos Notarianni, the representative for VMGR-152, said he knows he’s not personally receiving the award but he is honored to be there accepting the award for his unit.
Both the act of kindness performed by service members during the cleanup and the public recognition by the Good Deeds Association contributed to the strengthening U.S. and Japan relationship.
“I’m hoping that from the Japanese perspective, they see this as a good deed that will build our friendship,” said Notarianni. “We’re a guest in their country, so hopefully this will help them see us as friends rather than foreigners.”
The Good Deeds Association has several branches throughout the nation and those local branches are information resources that tell the association all the good conduct that goes on around them.
The association has two opportunities to honor selected groups, one in spring and the other in autumn.
“I’m aware that military members in Japan come and go roughly every two years, so we hope to recognize as many of them as possible while they’re still here,” said Niguma. “Once those groups are recognized, this recognition becomes motivation for them to continue to do good things and encourage other to join them.”
The Good Deeds association continues to receive recommendations from Japanese nationals saying that there are a lot of foreign groups doing good things for the community.
Niguma said each act of kindness performed by service members helps build friendships between them and the local community, and the association will continue to host these award ceremonies showing their appreciation.