MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
U.S. Navy sailors volunteered their morning with the Marine Memorial Chapel on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and visited local Japanese children at Ekimae Hoikuen preschool in Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 8, 2016.
The sailors spent their time completing maintenance tasks around the school such as trimming bushes, raking leaves and disassembling a pool before interacting with the children.
“We try to coordinate several projects each month,” said Noriko Yamada, an administration specialist at the Marine Memorial Chapel. “It gives the personnel of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni an opportunity to impact the strong relationship between the local Japanese and air station communities.”
The visit to Ekimae Hoikuen was part of a six week training requirement for chief petty officer selects and an ongoing community relations project.
“It’s always good to have the extra help,” said Yasuko Matsumura, a teacher at Ekimae Hoikuen. “We are able to make sure the maintenance is completed while we still tend to the children.”
Determined and honored with the opportunity to uphold good relations, the volunteers completed everything asked of them without hesitation.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Matthew McFarlane, bachelor housing chief with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “Whether it’s through hard labor, fun games or educational experiences, we try to keep up good relations with our host nation.”
McFarlane said volunteering also gives the chief petty officer selects a chance to get outside the gates of the air station and experience the local community and culture while working with each other and building bonds of their own.
Upon completion of the tasks given, the Seabees had the opportunity to interact with the children at the preschool. They handed out drinks and chips and took time to talk with the children about the maintenance they completed.
The teachers showed their appreciation to the volunteers and gave them water to ensure they were hydrated after their morning of hard work.
“We really appreciate what they do for the school,” said Matsumura. “Their time doesn’t go unnoticed. We hope to see them again and continue the relationships that have been created.”