MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Station residents and retirees gathered inside Club Iwakuni aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for a retirement ceremony June 25, 2014.
At the ceremony, only 15 retirees attended to receive certificates of appreciation, but in total the ceremony honored 39 retirees coming from a variety of departments within the station.
Yukihisa Tasaka, an Employee Management Relations Technician with the Civilian Human Resources Office, began the ceremony with opening remarks by followed by the presentation of certificates.
After the certificate presentation, Col. Robert V. Boucher, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni, voiced his appreciation toward the Japanese Master Labor Contractors and the positive affect they have on the station.
“The air station plays a vital role in maintaining peace and stability in the pacific region,” said Boucher. “Although it may have been difficult during the course of their day-to-day duties to see the importance of their individual contributions, I can assure you that we could not have accomplished our mission here without their loyal and dedicated service. I hope they take a great deal of personal satisfaction in knowing that the air station’s success is their success.”
The 39 contractors worked anywhere from 16 to 37 years aboard station. Before the contractors officially retire, they sign a one-year contract and they train their replacements to the best of their abilities.
This ceremony is held annually to honor all of the Japanese contractors retiring within the year and to show the station’s appreciation for their faithful service.
Tracey S. Sawyer, director of the Civilian Human Resources Office, praised the contractor’s loyalty to the station and the contributions they have made to the station’s mission success.
“I can’t imagine the air station without MLCs because they provide a constant work force versus military members who come and go every two-to-three years,” said Sawyer. “If it wasn’t for my MLCs who helped me navigate and get comfortable, I don’t think our office would even be standing. Overall, the presence of those retiring MLCs will be truly missed.”
Having Japanese natives work on an American air station can lead to some obstacles such as the language barrier, but both the Japanese and Americans work through those difficulties and build friendships along the way.
“It was hard for me to communicate with American people as my English was not good,” said Minoru Horino, an engineer with Facilities. “But it's very enjoyable working alongside service members as they are so positive. Generally, I had very good experience in my life working together and found improvement in my English speaking and knowledge of their culture, customs and courtesies.”
Japanese people are naturally very appreciative, but this ceremony provided the opportunity to show those Japanese contractors how much the U.S. air station appreciates them.
“On behalf of all the Marines, sailors and civilians of MCAS Iwakuni, I offer a sincere congratulations and heartfelt thank you for all they have contributed to our organizations and community,” said Boucher.