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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Fighting Fifth Association is hosting an American-style picnic Saturday for about 50 Japanese children and staff from the Kunitachi Orphanage.

For nearly three decades, the 5th Air Force organization has visited the nearby facility during the holidays. This will mark the first summertime exchange, which takes place at Yokota’s Darling Field from noon to 5 p.m.

“Each year, they host us at Christmas and have many Japanese treats and food,” said the association president, 1st Lt. J. Alan Goddard of the 20th Operational Weather Squadron. “We wanted to invite them to Yokota to experience an American-style picnic.”

Saturday’s menu is loaded with plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings. Activities on tap include dizzy bat, an egg toss and bouncy castles. DH the Clown also is slated to make an appearance.

According to Goddard, the command’s relationship with Kunitachi Orphanage dates back almost 50 years, when its headquarters was at Fuchu Air Base.

“Each Christmas, we take presents and Santa down to them and they lay out a huge spread for us,” he said. “They also have each of the age groups put on a show. They are as interested in us as we are in them.

“The most special thing to watch is how our members’ children interact with them. They are a little standoffish at first, but after a while, they are playing right next to each other.”

First Lt. Beth Welliver of the 20th Operational Weather Squadron said it’s extremely gratifying to work with the kids.

“It’s rewarding to see kids who are so cheerful and energetic, despite any hardships they might have endured,” she said. “They are the cutest. ... I just want to take one home with me.”


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