MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Residents of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and Japanese nationals from Atago Kodomo-Kai, Mount Atago, participated in the 13th annual Month of the Military Child festival at MCAS Iwakuni April 9, 2016.
The month of April honors and recognizes military children for the struggles they overcome such as frequent moves, school changes and separation from active duty parents. In 1986, Caspar Weinberger, former secretary of defense, formed Month of the Military Child as an official Department of Defense commemoration.
“We want to provide the kids with a fun time,” said Eugene Clark, Youth and Teen Center director. “This is a great opportunity for kids to come out, eat, laugh, play games and have a good time.”
The event informed children about organizations they could join or use in the future such as The American Red Cross, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, Provost Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps School Liaison Program, Counseling Services Branch, Exceptional Family Member Program, Community Bank, Family Advocacy Program and the local Boy Scout troop.
Throughout the event, children posed for photos with McGruff, the PMO mascot, and danced with Bumblebee from “Transformers.”
“There are not a lot of things for kids to do around Iwakuni,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Armour, logistics chief with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12. “This event is good because the kids get to go out, socialize, relax and have fun. I think the event should continue in the future.”
Approximately 500 American and Japanese children and their families attended the festival to enjoy free food, play games, face paint, draw, dance, participate in raffles and have story time. A blow-up bouncy house, carousel, slide and basketball hoop provided children with additional activities.
“I enjoyed this event and the free food,” said Michael Armour, a Matthew C. Perry kindergarten student. “The bouncy houses and slide were my favorite, and the giant chessboard was fun.”
Clark said he thanks all the commands, tentative commands and MCCS for helping put together this event for the children.