SUO-OSHIMA ISLAND, Japan -- Service members from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan combed Katazoe Beach on Oshima Island for debris during the Oshima Cleanup Dec. 12, 2015.
Marine Aircraft Group 12 Chaplain’s office and the Single Marine Program coordinated the cleanup, gathering approximately 90 volunteers from units across the air station.
Lance Cpl. Emily Egan, water support technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, said this is her first beach cleanup with SMP.
“I think it’s important for people on the air station to interact with the community and give back to our host nation,” said Egan. “It’s our way of saying thank you for allowing us to enjoy their beautiful country.”
SMP coordinates a cleanup at least once a month, giving station residents the opportunity to explore while showing their appreciation to the local community.
Oana Ivanoff, Marine Lounge manager with SMP, is in charge of coordinating these community relations events.
“I get great feedback from the Japanese thanking us for our time and efforts in keeping Japan clean,” said Ivanoff. “Even if they are not involved directly in the cleanups, the local community notices.”
Volunteers not only give back to the community through these event, they also get the opportunity to explore their host nation.
“These volunteer opportunities offer so much more than community service for our service members,” said Ivanoff. “Every trip, I get new volunteers that come up to me and say that they have never been to this part of Japan and they are coming back on their free time. These events inspire service members to get off the air station and explore new places and experience the culture.”