MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Orphans from Garden of Light Children’s Home in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, visited Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to experience Halloween with service members and their families Oct. 31, 2015.
During their visit, 50 station volunteers escorted 15 orphans to a haunted house operated by Marines and sailors from Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, bonded over dinner and went trick-or-treating around the air station.
The majority of the Japanese community see the exterior of the installation, but may not have the opportunity to venture past the gates, and attending this event helped expand their views about U.S. service members.
“The base is all fenced off and kids were wondering if everyone was armed and scary,” said the Rev. J. Paul Yamaoka, Director of the Garden of Light Children’s Home. “After coming here, they learned that everyone is friendly and nice.”
Hosted by the Marine Aircraft Group 12 chaplain’s office, this event allowed the orphans to experience American culture and tradition by partaking in a U.S. holiday.
“The Japanese don’t practice Halloween or trick-or-treating,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Cosme Rosete, religious program specialist with MAG-12. “The children had fun after coming on base and meeting the volunteers.”
While trick-or-treating, visitors and volunteers could see how station residents celebrate the spooky holiday, from the eccentric costumes to the decorated houses.
“This is one of those holidays that you get to be something that you are not,” said Lance Cpl. Adron Harmon, an embark specialist with Combat Logistics Company 36. “There’s not too many times where you get to celebrate, come together . . . trick-or-treat and watch people get scared.”
Yamaoka expressed his appreciation toward the air station and was impressed with how friendly they were.
“For the Japanese, it takes time to get to know people,” said Yamaoka. “We are appreciative of the Americans talking to us and for getting to know us. It’s very important for the kids to meet new people so they can see that others care for them. They live in one small facility and don’t get to go around and see things and would appreciate it if they were given more opportunities like this in the future.”