MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Representatives from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and Marine Aerial Transport Refueler Squadron 152 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, reported to the mayor of Iwakuni at city hall June 3, 2015, after receiving awards from the Japan Good Deeds Association during their 65th Spring Commendation Ceremony in May.
In August 2014, service members with H&HS and VMGR-152 volunteered their time to the local community whose homes were affected by a mudslide. When the Good Deeds Association learned about this, the local association representative approached Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni City, recommending that he put in a package of endorsement for the service members to be recognized by the GDA.
After being acknowledged on a national level at the Spring Commendation Ceremony, Fukuda invited the two representatives into city hall to acknowledge them for their actions at a more local level.
“I remember the day after Iwakuni was hit by that terrible storm like it happened yesterday,” said Fukuda. “Soon after we learned that several people were suffering from this disaster, service members showed up, and knowing that really impressed me.”
The cleanup was the outcome of heavy rain that caused massive flooding, mudslides and landslides, which resulted in immense damage to property and the injuries and death of local residents, August 6, 2014, days before Typhoon Halong hit Japan.
Throughout the weeklong cleanup, the volunteer center recorded a total of about 900 volunteers. The volunteers labored hard all day filling sandbags with dirt, rocks and other debris.
“When I heard about the damage from the mudslide, I was the first one to want to go pick up a shovel and help out,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Gordy, the representative for H&HS. “It reminded me of when I helped out after Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., so I was excited to help out again, especially when I learned that the mudslide affected the lives of a lot of elderly who were not physically able to do it themselves.”
Gordy said he saw a lot of smiling faces when the service members showed up to help, adding that the people knew what the service members were there for because they came with shovels and sandbags in their hands.
Those smiling faces turned into good reports to the mayor which then turned into his commendation to the Good Deeds Association for the help service members gave to the local community.
Fukuda explained that he received a lot of feedback from the community that was assisted after the disaster saying they’re grateful of the service members for taking time off of work to help them out. Fukuda added that Marines are very strong, so without their help the community wouldn’t have been able to move all the mud, dirt and debris like logs and tree branches.
“I personally believe that (MCAS Iwakuni’s) contribution to the local community of Iwakuni is going to be the key for us to build a closer relationship between the city of Iwakuni and the station,” said Fukuda. “In the future we may encounter another disaster like this and I would appreciate if you were there to extend a helping hand once again.”
Residents from MCAS Iwakuni went out to help because they believed it was the right thing to do, but the people of Japan are very appreciative people and believed it’s important that they be awarded for what they did.
“We are a guest in this country so we try to do the right thing at all times,” said Sgt. Carlos Notarianni, the representative for VMGR-152. “I’m very grateful to be recognized on behalf of my command and to be recognized at all in the first place. As neighbors and friends, we are more than willing to help out the community.”
During the meeting at the City Hall the Mayor made it clear that he appreciates the help MCAS Iwakuni gave to the community and he hopes the city and the station can continue having close relationships.
“You guys are the heroes, not me. I just made other people aware of the great things you guys did,” said Fukuda. “Myself, the community and the elderly people you helped are very thankful for what you guys have done. We’re hoping that your kindness continues, and we will do the same for you.”