SAPPORO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors stationed at U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa and its tenant commands began work on a snow sculpture as part of the 67th annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan, Jan. 30.
The team will carve a 3-D surface warfare pin in honor of the Navy's surface warfare program, marking the 33rd consecutive year the U.S. Navy has sent a team of eight Sailors to participate in the festival.
The surface warfare pin will be carved from a 10-by-10 foot block of compacted snow and will be on display during the festival, which is visited by more than two million spectators each year.
"Our team has never had this experience before and it's their first time ever trying to complete a sculpture," said Builder 1st Class Thomas Thornton, this year's team leader from Huntington, Massachusetts, and assigned to Public Works Detachment Misawa. "I think they're doing a phenomenal job. They're on their second day on the site and the surface warfare pin is in a recognizable state and you can see the ship."
The Sailors were chosen by their commands as a result of their stellar performance while on and off duty.
"My personal experience here has been amazing so far, this is a once in a lifetime chance to be able to participate in an event like this," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Nicholas Garcia, assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East (NCTSFE), from La Mirada, California, and a member of this year's snow sculpting team.
In recent years, the Navy snow sculpting teams have sculpted replicas of "The Lone Sailor," USS George Washington (CVN 73), the famous U.S. Navy Seabee logo, "The Fighting Bee," and the Navy's oldest commissioned ship, USS Constitution.
The team has seven days to build the sculpture in time for the festival's kick off, Feb. 5, and they have made quick progress shaping the ship's hull and waves.
While in Sapporo, the Navy's team will once again be hosted by the Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members at Camp Sapporo.
Along with Thornton and Garcia, this year's all-Navy snow sculpting team is also comprised of Mineman Seaman William Deaver, assigned to Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division Unit Misawa, who hails from Troy, Missouri; Yeoman 2nd Class Pauline Foust, assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa, from New York; Utilitiesman Constructionman Victoria Holland, assigned to Public Works Detachment Misawa, originally from McDonaugh, Georgia; Operations Specialist 2nd Class Ellington Morgan, assigned to Commander, Task Force 72, from Sacramento, California; Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Darshelay Rockette, assigned to Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department Misawa, and a native of Benton Harbor, Michigan; and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Weldin, assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa, from Columbia, South Carolina.
There are many snow sculpting teams from around the world that participate in the festival every year. JGSDF and the city of Sapporo create some of the largest sculptures measuring more than 40 feet high and 80 feet wide.
There will also be a snow sculpting competition that is held annually during the festival.
For more news from Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, visit www.navy.mil/local/nafmisawa/.