YAMATO, Japan (NNS) -- Chief Petty Officers (CPO) and CPO selectees from Naval Air Facility Atsugi (NAFA) area commands lent a helping hand to the citizens of Yamato, Japan during their first community relations (COMREL) event of the FY-20 Chief Petty Officer season.
The group gathered outside Yamato train station to assemble a stage to be used in the city’s annual summer festival the following day. Sumie Maruyama, NAF Atsugi Community Relations Specialist, organized the event on behalf of the NAFA CPO Mess.
Familiar with the effort it took festival organizers in previous years, Maruyama thought this would be the perfect opportunity for the selectees to show their support for their host nation neighbors.
“I saw Okamoto-san (Mr. Okamoto, the festival organizer) building the stage last year, almost by himself, and I told him if there was anything we could do for him, we would be more than happy too. So when the Chief selectees were looking for more COMREL events, I thought this would be a great opportunity. Plus the selectees are going to Fukushima on Aug. 24th so I thought this would be a great rehearsal,” said Maruyama.
Passersby expressed an equal amount of surprise and appreciation for the efforts put forth by the NAFA CPO Mess.
“This is something where the people of Yamato can see our efforts, when people walk by, they ask ‘Why are American people doing this?’ ‘You are in the Navy and you work so hard, but you still try to help these people’” said Maruyama.
For Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jeremy Hines, from Wilmington, North Carolina, who has only been onboard NAFA for nine days, the relationship between Yamato city and the base has obvious roots.
“Just from my fresh perspective, I can see this isn’t the first COMREL Atsugi has participated in with the local populace. This is my first time in Japan so I’m just taking it all in,” said Hines.
Despite the heat of the Japanese summer, Hines enjoyed the event and is looking forward to participating in more over the course of his tour in Atsugi.
“It’s been a great COMREL so far and I’m excited for the next one. I’ll be here for 3 more years so hopefully I’ll be able to take part in many more. It’s a great experience,” said Hines.
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