CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The members of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band got a close-up view of part of their heritage Wednesday when a former bandsman visited his old stomping grounds.

From 1964 to 1966 Paul Durso made a lasting impression on his Okinawan hosts as a member of 3rd Marine Division Band Okinawa.

Durso and two bandmates first learned to sing Japanese songs for laughs, he said. But when locals began teaching them more, they became serious about it.

Calling themselves the Kichi Gai Trio, they entered a Ryukyu Broadcasting Corp. TV talent show called the Tanabe Sunday Show in 1965, Durso said.

They placed second with a comedy act sung entirely in the Japanese and Okinawan dialects.

"I don’t speak Japanese, but I can put on a show for an hour in Japanese," he said. "We were three Marines just having fun."

They became local celebrities and went on to perform on Okinawa Radio’s fifth anniversary show, as well as doing regular shows for local schoolchildren and adult audiences.

During his weeklong trip, he and his wife visited the president of Ryukyu Broadcasting Corp. and friends he left behind.

On Wednesday, he told the III MEF Band members they have a marvelous opportunity here.

"While on Okinawa, inhale all that you can, study, learn," said Durso, who left the Corps in 1966 as a corporal after four years of service.

He told the Marines they have an obligation to be a bridge between the American and Okinawan cultures and to provide a positive example of Americans.

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