NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- Fifty Sailors from Naval Air Facility Atsugi's chief petty officer (CPO) 365 joined 120 7th grade students from the Zama Minami Junior High School for a flower-planting event at Higashihara Community Center June 5.
The flower planting is a yearly event organized by Atsugi's CPO 365 which provides Atsugi's Sailors a chance to volunteer in the local community as well as engage with their host nation neighbors.
In addition to the fellowship shared between the Sailors and their Japanese hosts, chiefs and first class petty officers (FCPO) took advantage of the chance to strengthen their professional relationships and share a bit of mentoring.
"As for the new first classes, it is good for them to see how things operated and were set up," said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Jack Morgan, Atsugi's CPO 365 Phase 1 coordinator. "It also shows them that with good leadership and good manpower, anything can be accomplished."
The day's event also provided the first opportunity for some of Atsugi's newly promoted FCPOs to join a CPO 356 event.
"It's pretty rewarding. I enjoyed planting the flowers and getting to engage with the Japanese children here. It was a good time," said Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Ronald Maman, from San Diego. "Getting to know the other first classes and chiefs outside of a working environment is pretty good. I feel it builds more camaraderie between the first classes and the chiefs."
While some COMREL events give both sides a glimpse of the goodwill shared between the base and Japanese community, recurring events such as the flower planting offer an opportunity to reunite with familiar faces in the neighborhood where Atsugi's Sailors live and work.
According to Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Raymond McCloud, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"It seems like a good opportunity to help the community and build camaraderie with your fellow first classes. It builds a repertoire for the base and our messes. It is also a chance not just to meet someone one time, but you could meet a kid here, say hello, get their name, and next time see them again and see how they're doing and how their English is coming along."
The Higashihara Community Center flower planting event is currently in its 12th year.
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