SAPPORO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors stationed at U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa and its tenant commands completed their surface warfare pin snow sculpture in time for the 67th annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan, Feb. 5.
The team spent seven days using hand tools that included chisels, hatchets, hand saws, and knives, to cut, shape, and smooth a 10-by-10 foot block of compacted snow into a replica of the Navy's prestigious surface warfare pin.
This was the 33rd consecutive year the U.S. Navy has sent a team of eight Sailors to participate in the festival.
"These Sailors, who had never carved snow sculptures before, did a great job of coming together and building an awesome surface warfare pin snow sculpture," said Builder 1st Class Thomas Thornton, assigned to Public Works Detachment Misawa, from Huntington, Massachusetts, and this year's team leader.
There were not any delays once the Sailors began sculpting. The ship and waves quickly took shape and the words "U.S. Navy" and "Surface Warfare" were later added.
"We did what Sailors are known for; we improvised and worked with what we had to do something we had never done before," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Ellington Morgan, assigned to Commander, Task Force 72, from Sacramento, California. "It was a great time and an awesome opportunity to learn something new."
The team was successful due to each Sailor taking ownership of a certain portion of the sculpture and focusing on that portion, while adding the details needed to make it look realistic. The Sailors were also very quick to let each other know if a portion of the sculpture didn't look correct, and they offered plenty of constructive ideas on how to fix things.
These same valuable traits are the reasons their leadership chose them to represent their commands at this year's festival.
Many Sapporo locals visit with the team each year, and expressed how excited they are to visit with the Sailors during the annual event.
"My team creates a snow sculpture here each year and I have met and visited with the Navy's snow team each year since 2013," said Konomi Sugawara, a Sapporo resident. "They're a lot of fun to talk to and it's great to see them taking part in our festival."
"This was a great chance to be ambassadors for the Navy and America," said Morgan. "We visited with Sapporo locals who said they make it a priority to visit with the Navy's snow sculpting team every year during the festival."
Many of the locals brought hot coffee, donuts, and Hokkaido chocolate to the 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.
"I had a great time visiting with all of the school children and helping them practice their English," said Thornton. "Many of them wanted to know where we're from and asked us lots of questions about our snow sculpture. It was a great experience. Mingling with local nationals was very favorable and they were excited to talk with us about our sculpture."
Along with Thornton and Morgan, this year's all-Navy snow sculpting team was 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; Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Nicholas Garcia, assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East (NCTSFE), from La Mirada, California; 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. Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force 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. The festival will end Feb. 11.
For more news from Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/nafmisawa/.