A BRIDGE BETWEEN TWO CULTURES
3 4 Story by: Sgt. N.W. Huertas Throughout the decades, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni has celebrated the friendship between two nations with an annual air show. The event has provided two cultures with a unique experience as they come together to share a day of live performances, vendors and fun. Friendship Day is a community relations event that started in 1973, said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Dwain Donaldson, the deputy director for Friendship Day. This year will be the 42nd Friendship Day and the fourth year we've worked hand in hand with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. According to Donaldson, the airshow attracts a diverse amount of people from the local area as well as all over Japan. Crowds of people gather to see not only the live performances but the demonstration of capabilities between the U.S. armed forces and the JMSDF. MCAS Iwakuni works closely with the JMSDF, the city of Iwakuni and many other agencies in order to successfully execute this great event, said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard Fuerst, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni. It highlights our common interests, our common goals and demonstrates that we need to have mutual cooperation in order to support our alliance here in the Indo-Asia Pacific, and maybe most importantly, it is also a lot of fun no matter what nationality you are. Some of the demonstrations and performances this year included the U.S. Army Golden Knights aerial parachute demonstration team, Japan Air SelfDefense Force F-2 demonstration team, U.S. Airforce F-16 demonstration team, and several Marine Corps aerial performances and static displays. This year, the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II conducted its first ever display of its aerial capabilities in the Pacific Region. Its aerial acrobatics impressed the crowed as it revealed its unique capabilities. Last years Friendship Day attracted approximately 200,000 people who flocked to the air station. The number of attendees has steadily grown since the first introduction of the air show. Hundreds of thousands of attendees have received a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the capabilities of these military entities first hand. Something that I think is important for Friendship Day is that we do a Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration, which is a combination of aviation and ground, said Donaldson. The MAGTF demonstration was a combination of ground and air assets to showcase interoperability. It utilized both fixed-wing and tiltrotor aircraft like the MV-22B Osprey, KC-130 J Super Hercules, tactical jets and elements like Explosive Ordnance Disposal and a simulated tactical insert with Marines. MCAS Iwakuni is an important strategic base to both Japan and the United States, said Fuerst. On MCAS Iwakuni we have the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Air Group 12, Navy Carrier Air Wing 5 and JMSDF Fleet Air Wing 31, which is a unique combination of forces not only in Japan but anywhere in the world. This partnership is very important to our collective success in the region. MCAS Iwakuni gives our civilian diplomats, both American and Japanese, the ability to negotiate from a position of strength. The fact that we co-host this event with our close allies, JMSDF FAW-31, highlights the level of our cooperation. We hold Friendship Day to show the local citizens our appreciation. The air show brings more than just aerial acrobatics to all those who attend. It provides a window into the world of how far two nations have come together throughout the years as operational entities and a community. Friendship Day is a very important day for the Marine Corps and specifically MCAS Iwakuni, said Fuerst. MCAS Iwakuni is grateful to be a part of the community here in Iwakuni, the surrounding cities and within the Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures. We have a great relationship, and we are very interested in maintaining that relationship. Friendship Day is just one of the ways we show our appreciation to the citizens of Japan and to also provide more transparency into the kind of operations we conduct here on MCAS Iwakuni.
7 8 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Lauren Brune Cherry blossom petals fell at their feet as they strolled alongside the Nishiki River, drinking popular Japanese drinks, while hundreds of smiling faces took photos near the Kintaikyo Bridge. U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dawson Hatzman, an engineer assistant, and Cpl. Lucas Iacarella, a combat engineer, both with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, noticed a sightseeing-cruise boat trapped under the bridge. The boat was in a precarious position and risked being swept downstream to nearby rapids. The boatman managed to drop the anchor in a desperate attempt to stop the boat at the bottom of the bridge, but the current proved too rapid. He jumped into the cold water and tried to push the boat upstream but was unable to overcome the force of the Nishiki River. Hatzman and Iacarella made the quick decision to run across the bridge and down to the waters edge where they kicked off their shoes to help the man and his passengers. Together the Japanese boatman and the two Marines pushed the boat back to the safety of the far side of the river. The man thanked them for their help, and they went separate ways. The boatman sent a letter to MCAS Iwakuni thanking the two men for their help that day, in Iwakuni City, Japan, April 1, 2018. I dont think its heroic. Its something that everybody should do, said Hatzman. We were across the bridge and noticed that one of the boats that takes tourists across the river was at a standstill. One of the boatmen was in the water trying to get the boat free with no luck. Hatzman said he never expected an event to occur that would test what the Marine Corps has instilled in them over the years. They took initiative to help the boatman to get the passengers back to safety. Making quick decisions to help someone you dont know, while possibly risking your safety, displays the fundamental traits of honor, courage and commitment all Marines are expected to live by. Every invidual Marine has the responsibility to demonstrate these traits with everyday actions they take. I think thats the whole purpose of being a Marine, said Hatzman. Taking the initiative to step up and make a difference in the world. Its our duty to, wherever we can. Its important because we get to build that relationship (with our Japanese hosts).
9 10 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Seth Rosenberg Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents visited Josho Hoikuen preschool in Iwakuni City, Japan, May 15, 2018. Volunteers taught basic English, sang and played games with the children. Staff from the Marine Memorial Chapel led the event and spent their morning with the students, in the classroom and on the playground. These visits started 13 years ago, said Noriko Yamada, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. MCAS Iwakuni representatives visited Iwakuni Citys city hall and asked what we can do in the community. They said that schools want us to come and give them basic English classes. We came back on base, gathered volunteers, and now we visit schools every month. The chapel staff heads events at a local school four times per month. The events teach students English skills and share American culture with the students. Ayako Harada, a teacher at Josho Hoikuen preschool, said that it is a good opportunity for the students to learn new things about the English language and to experience new cultures. The students were given the chance to learn from native English speakers about geography, numbers, and songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and Happy Birthday. The volunteers also got to work with kids and represent MCAS Iwakuni in the community. Its a great opportunity to strengthen relations between MCAS Iwakuni and the local community, said U.S. Navy Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 3rd Class Deja Jenkins with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.
11 12 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Andrew Jones The F-35 Lightning II aircraft is a fifthgeneration fighter with three variants and is slated to replace U.S. military legacy fighter aircraft in the coming years. With a program of this size, there are checks and balances set in place to ensure that contracts regarding the aircraft are being fulfilled, and the government is getting its moneys worth. Those checks and balances come in the form of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan and the Pacific area of regard Site Activation Task Force. We are in charge of setting up the F-35 program in the Pacific area of regard, said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Justin Ito, the officer in charge of the Pacific area of regard SATAF stationed at MCAS Iwakuni. Some of the things that we are responsible for are contracts and contract performance. With the F-35 you have a lot of really expensive contracts and the government wants to make sure that they are getting their end of the deal. What does that mean? The government needs someone out here to evaluate contract performance. Katsuji Tahara, an information technology specialist with the communication and information systems department for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and an Iwakuni City resident, stepped up to create a SharePoint website where a contract officer representative, can store the results of their evaluation, termed an audit. The indexing and tracking of the audit data through SharePoint is significant because it can track trends, stimulate efficiency, bring transparency and can be available to higher commands where they can learn from the information. Ito presented Tahara with a letter of appreciation for his efforts in creating the SharePoint at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, April 11, 2018. Tahara received the recognition for his assistance in creating the SharePoint in four days. The site will be used for documenting, tracking and viewing audits of government contracts for work relating to the F-35 Lightning II aircraft system. In the big picture, what he did was leaps and bounds over what he should be doing, said David Naseer, an F-35 COR and Pacific area of regard SATAF strategist working at MCAS Iwakuni. We gave this to him last week, and it was done in four days. He got it done very, very quickly because we impressed upon him the urgency, complexity and importance of the overall program. Naseer is responsible for conducting audits throughout the Pacific. Before the SharePoint was put in place and the billet for a COR existed, no audits were being conducted on contracts for the F-35 that fell under this SATAF. I got here and realized that we didnt have anyone doing these audits, so we went out of our way, pushed the paperwork and did everything that we needed to get Naseer designated as a COR, so we can do these audits and have more transparency, said Ito. Ito has taken many steps to ensure the quality and the effectiveness of the work done by contractors through his efforts in creating a billet for a COR. Additionally, his forward thinking combined with the efforts of Naseer and Tahara have made progress that he says has the potential to save millions of dollars and can be utilized by other F-35 units.
13 14 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Lauren Brune Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents visited a local wholesale market in Iwakuni City, Japan, May 19, 2018. The trip to the wholesale market allowed station residents to attend a local food market where vendors sell fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, and sweets like mochi balls and snow cones. This is the first time the Cultural Adaptation Program organized this event for residents. This market happens every third Saturday of the month. This is a great opportunity to join a community, said Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaptation specialist with Marine Corps Community Services. They get to enjoy shopping and see local products like vegetables, fruit and meat. Upon arrival, everyone was greeted with coffee and water provided by a local coffee shop near the market. Maps were handed out and the residents were free to explore what the market had to offer. Outside the building there were vendors selling grilled eel, colorful mochi balls and flowers. Vendors voices echoed the prices and types of fish being sold as shoppers walked through the warehouse. Fruit and vegetables filled boxes outside, where vendors were ready to bag them for customers. My favorite part was the fresh produce, said Alyssa Granillo, an MCAS Iwakuni resident. Towards the end of the market, everyone gathered around a stage where there was an auction for remaining produce and meat. Watanabe explained that vendors go to an auction to buy fresh produce and meat for the market, and that having a small auction allowed local Iwakuni City residents and visitors from the base to experience how vendors get their product for the market. After the auction, kids made their way to the front of the crowd where candy was thrown out to them. Mochi balls were thrown as well, which represents good luck. Watanabe said that having this event for residents allows them to become knowledgeable of activities off base, so they can become comfortable attending them on their own time.
15 16 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Seth Rosenberg The shadow of Kizuna stadium falls over two softball fields at the Atago Hills sports complex. The sun shines in a cloudless sky, radiating down on a group of athletes of all ages and skill levels ready to play softball. The athletes, service members from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and members of the Yamaguchi Track Association, gathered to play a softball tournament in Iwakuni City, Japan, May 20, 2018. Each game started with a round of rock, paper, scissors to decide which team took the field first. The teams shook hands, then played ball. They played three games per team, each lasting five innings. Theres not many rules but the most important rule is to have fun and enjoy the game, said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jesus Benavidez, a distribution management specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. At lunchtime the players, covered in sweat and dirt from the field, sat down for grilled burgers and hotdogs. A cooler full of ice cold water quickly emptied as the players talked about the tournament. The softball games started as a competition within the Yamaguchi Track Association, but they reached out to MCAS Iwakuni to join them in a tournament of friendship. The air station responded by forming Team USA and has been to five tournaments in the past year. The tournaments are played next to the Kizuna stadium, a symbol of the bond between the U.S. and Japan. Shizuo Kawasaki, a member of the Yamaguchi Track Association, says this is a great opportunity to interact and build relationships with people from the air station, and to enjoy the games played. MCAS Iwakuni has only put forth one team so far, but the team hopes to expand the air stations presence in future tournaments. Its really good to get out and build camaraderie with the Japanese, said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Scott, a logistics specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. It does a lot for the community and its a fun time.
17 18 Story and photo by: Lance Cpl. Seth Rosenberg Marine Corps Air station Iwakuni residents visited Tsuzu Elementary School for the 13th Community Cultural Exchange in Iwakuni City, Japan, May 26, 2018. The Cultural Adaptation Program hosts a community cultural exchange six times per year, taking station residents to Tsuzu Elementary, to share each others culture through cooking classes and arts and crafts. Usually Tsuzu Elementary provides a craft class and a cooking class, said Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaptation specialist with Marine Corps Community Services. This time the U.S. provided a cupcake decorating class, and the Japanese kids were so excited to see American culture. The volunteers from MCAS Iwakuni and students from the school played games, decorated cupcakes and ate lunch together. Yoraios Pacheco, a resident of MCAS Iwakuni, taught the cupcake decorating class to volunteers and students. My favorite part was getting to interact with another culture, said Pacheco. I decorated cupcakes with the students and taught them how to prepare the piping bags. Activities like this help bring the MCAS Iwakuni community closer to the local Japanese through sharing cultures and experiences with one another. The cultural adaptation program takes people off base and gives them the opportunity to go out and see new people, said Watanabe. It really feels like we are all part of our Iwakuni community. Story and photo by: Lance Cpl. Lauren Brune Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents traveled to Yamaguchi Flower Land and Kashinoki Sweets Factory in Yanai City, Japan, May 25, 2018. This trip was part of an annual event that workers with the Cultural Adaptation Program organize for MCAS Iwakuni residents. Station residents began their adventure with the sight of a spinning Ferris wheel full of flowers was the first thing they saw when walking through the flower land. A large assortment of flowers covered the ground, bringing different scents every few feet, and there were multiple play areas for the children and many seating areas to relax and view the flowers. Mikie Watanabe, cultural adaptation specialist with Marine Corps Community Services, said that there are many fascinating places the Cultural Adaptation Program wants to share with residents. Once they know a place, they can come back with their family and friends on their own. Local Japanese workers demonstrated how to make moss balls and helped the residents make their own. They were given a small dish as a gift to set their creations on when they brought it home. As one of Cultural Adaptation Programs hands-on activity, we coordinated the moss ball making class at the flower land, said Watanabe. We try to provide air station residents with something special, not only the site visit. After the Yamaguchi Flower Land, residents boarded the bus to head to a sweets factory where they received a behind-the-scene tour and tasted samples of some of the sweets the factory makes. We get a double benefit with events like this, said Jesse Monestersky, an MCAS Iwakuni resident. The community gets to meet us and we get to meet the community. I believe it fosters a solid relationship with the Japanese.
19 20 Story and photos by: Lance Cpl. Andrew Jones Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents experienced part of Japanese culture during a rice planting event with the Marine Corps Community Services Cultural Adaptation Program in Iwakuni City, Japan, June 9, 2018. The rice planting experience was held so MCAS Iwakuni residents could see how rice is traditionally planted. If you are sitting home doing nothing, staying on base thinking that there is nothing to do, then you should totally get out and see Japan, said U.S. Navy Lt. Ashley Aclese, a registered nurse with Naval Family Branch Clinic Iwakuni. You can really experience a totally different culture that you might never experience again. The station residents walked side-byside through a muddy rice paddy with Japanese locals, plunging the roots of small rice plants into the water and mud in neat rows. After planting rice, the group of participants ate homemade curry and visited a farmers market that sells locally grown rice. For more than 10 years, station residents have come to the rice paddies in Iwakuni to plant rice in the spring and return in the fall to harvest it. Kikuko Shinjo, an Iwakuni resident, started the event, and she attends and coordinates many other events for station residents. Shinjo is the leader of Chiiki Kouryu No Sato, a volunteer group that coordinated the event alongside Marine Corps Community Services, Iwakuni City Hall, Yamaguchi Prefectural Government Offices and local farmers. Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaptation specialist with MCCS, said the Cultural Adaption Program provides opportunities for station residents to experience local culture and helps them overcome language and culture barriers through events like this one.
23 Story and photo by: Cpl. Joseph Abrego U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard F. Fuerst, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, hosted 23 Iwakuni City council members for the air stations first event in Sound of Freedom campaign at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, June, 1, 2018. The campaign consists of a series of events throughout the air station to give the city council members a better understanding of base operations and share insight on why maintaining readiness for Marine Aircraft Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 5 and Fleet Air Wing 31 is so important. As an air station, we would like the Iwakuni community to have a deeper understanding of why we have to fly as much as we do and that our procedures are safe and as professional as any organizations in the world, said Fuerst. I want the citizens of Iwakunito understand that we take every step possible to be good neighbors. I'm very concerned about both readiness, which takes many flights to gain and maintain, and being a good neighbor. The event started with Iwakuni City council members receiving a brief from Fuerst. The brief gave information on various units on the installation, aviation training and readiness, a review of safety policies and regulations, an update on the Defense Policy Review Initiative and key components that make MCAS Iwakuni so important to the defense of Japan. Additionally, the council members were provided an opportunity to ask questions to MCAS Iwakuni leadership and staff members during a luncheon, and they received a tour of the base. Through additional knowledge and a deeper understanding, air station leadership can effectively educate Iwakuni residents on the importance of readiness, and its direct impact on national security and the collective success of both Japan and the United States. My goal is to host events like these on a routine basis, said Fuerst. We would like to do them more often.