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Choko Zukeran, chairman of Chatan Town's Board of Education, Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona and Col. Glenn Wagner, Camp Commander of Camp Foster (from left) were among about 80 people gathered for a dedication ceremony of a 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster.
Choko Zukeran, chairman of Chatan Town's Board of Education, Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona and Col. Glenn Wagner, Camp Commander of Camp Foster (from left) were among about 80 people gathered for a dedication ceremony of a 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Choko Zukeran, chairman of Chatan Town's Board of Education, Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona and Col. Glenn Wagner, Camp Commander of Camp Foster (from left) were among about 80 people gathered for a dedication ceremony of a 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster.
Choko Zukeran, chairman of Chatan Town's Board of Education, Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona and Col. Glenn Wagner, Camp Commander of Camp Foster (from left) were among about 80 people gathered for a dedication ceremony of a 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
A 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster, once destroyed by the Battle of Okinawa was restored by the Marine Corps's Environmental Branch. About 80 residents, Marine Corps and Chatan officials Friday attended the dedication ceremony.
A 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster, once destroyed by the Battle of Okinawa was restored by the Marine Corps's Environmental Branch. About 80 residents, Marine Corps and Chatan officials Friday attended the dedication ceremony. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona felt the touch of water fresh from the community well Friday. Marine Corps hosted a dedication ceremony for a restored 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster.
Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona felt the touch of water fresh from the community well Friday. Marine Corps hosted a dedication ceremony for a restored 200-year-old community well on Camp Foster. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — One of the casualties of the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 has been revived.

During a show of how the Marine Corps strives to be a good neighbor on Okinawa, about 80 local residents, Marine Corps brass and Chatan officials attended a dedication ceremony Friday on Camp Foster to celebrate restoration of a 200-year-old community well.

Residents of former Tamayose community of Chatan fixed their eyes on a new stone well made of ivory-colored Ryukyu limestone, marking the site where a fresh water spring once provided cool water to the villagers.

“I feel like I am dreaming,” 82- year-old Seitoku Tsukayama said after the brief ceremony behind the Marine base barracks. “We used to swim here and had a great time. I am very grateful for the Marine Corps’ effort to restore our well.”

The Marines’ Facilities Engineering Division Environmental Branch on Camp Foster did the restoration using Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program funds, said Masayuki Yonaha of the environmental branch.

It was the first time fund money was approved for a project outside the United States, he said. The project’s cost was not available Friday, Yonaha said.

Attending the ceremony were Choko Zukeran, chairman of Chatan Town’s Board of Education, Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona and Col. Glenn Wagner, Camp Foster commander.

The spring, called Chibugawa, once a valued water supply, was considered sacred by the villagers. It was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa at World War II’s end, said Chatan Mayor Choichi Hentona in a dedication speech.

He said the town had discussed the need for restoring the well eight years ago but had to shelve the plan because it was too costly.

“We appreciate the effort made by the Marine Corps and their understanding of Okinawan culture and history,” he said.

Several older Chatan residents said seeing the beautifully restored well, which sits in a small, quiet valley near a food court called “The Spot,” was a nostalgic moment.

“This was our playground,” said a 73-year-old woman who would give only her family name, Shimabukuro.

“We used to come here every morning to draw water,” she said as she watched crystal clear spring water flow from the well’s mouth. “When I first saw this well today, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t hold my tears.

“I was brought up by this water,” she said. “I wish I could share this joy with my childhood friends who have moved far away from town.”

As she watched the water pour from the restored spring, another old memory returned.

“There used to live a giant eel here,” she said. “People in the community revered the eel as the lord of the well.

“I wonder if he still lives here.”

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