Army chief of staff's Camp Zama visit a busy one
June 10, 2005
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker visited Japan this week for meetings with top U.S. and Japanese leaders and spent a few hours Wednesday with some of his troops.
Schoomaker, the top active-duty leader in the Army, at Camp Zama re-enlisted six soldiers, commended their families for supporting them and thanked personnel at the Army’s top-ranked small dining facility.
His several-day visit included a number of key areas, said U.S. Army Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Charles D. Hopkins, who attended the private meetings at Zama.
“It was primarily a visit with allies and senior leadership, and to see his soldiers,” Hopkins said.
At the re-enlistment, Schoomaker praised the soldiers for helping the Army meet its mission.
“If I could do this every day, I’d be like being in heaven,” he said.
Schoomaker gave the six his coin and gave the soldiers’ wives a certificate of appreciation.
“I think it’s great, I’m re-enlisting with the top of the top,” said Spc. Mike Acevedo, with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Japan.
“To me it’s exciting because it’s not too often you get to meet the chief of staff of the Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lorenzo Lewis, 78th Signal Battalion, Headquarters, Headquarters detachment sergeant. “This is definitely a memorable day. I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I’ll treasure this for the rest of my life.”
Schoomaker also congratulated food-service soldiers at the camp dining facility, who earned the Philip A. Connelly Award in their size category for fiscal 2005. The soldiers each also earned a coin.
“Being this far away from the Pentagon and the Capitol, we don’t see [such high-ranking visitors]. It’s an honor to see they recognize the hard work that we’ve done,” said food service specialist Sgt. Mandee Finney. “Some people see [earning a coin] as a small token, but it does actually mean a lot.”
Staff Sgt. Robert K. Majette said the recognition demonstrates the importance of food service in general to the Army, and the importance of small, remote locations like Camp Zama.
“I can say I’m very pleased and happy that he took time out to come,” he said.
While at Zama, Schoomaker told Army leaders and top noncommissioned officers that the Army is on track with recruiting, enlistments and retention, particularly in deployed areas. Units are well-trained and well-equipped, he said, adding that the Army is also moving forward with quality-of-life improvements including barracks renovations worldwide.
The chief of staff spoke with Army leaders about the success of bilateral operations and training in Japan, including improvements to exercises and training between Japan and the United States.
Schoomaker also was scheduled to observe training at a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force camp and have lunch with cadets at the National Defense Academy.
Also during his visit, he met with U.S. diplomats and members of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Agency.
According to a Japan Broadcasting Corp. television report Wednesday, Japanese officials asked Schoomaker to consider a reduction in forces in Japan, particularly on Okinawa.
The Army did not release information about Schoomaker’s meetings in Tokyo.
Schoomaker was next scheduled to visit South Korea.