Okinawa units, sergeant cited for volunteer work
June 19, 2006
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Three Okinawa-based Marine units and a Marine sergeant have been singled out for their volunteer work in the local community.
The Japan Good Conduct Association’s Okinawa chapter on Saturday gave awards to Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Marines and sailors of Camp Kinser and 3rd Medical Battalion.
They also singled out Sgt. Jeremy Landen, a Headquarters Battalion platoon sergeant, for his individual volunteer efforts.
The certificates are awarded each year to Americans who give something back to host communities, said Seishin Oyama, Nippon Zenkokai Association local chapter chairman.
“It is difficult to express in words how much respect and gratitude I have toward them,” he said.
The association, overseen by the prime minister’s office, each year honors people who have performed specific good deeds or given long-term help to the community. Most of the hundreds of honorees are Japanese citizens, but a handful of foreigners also are recognized each year.
“They volunteer their time for local communities,” Oyama said of the Okinawa military recipients. “Giving up your day off is easier said than done. I am deeply impressed with their selfless service to local communities. I truly believe that these people are the great assets and role models of all Americans who live on the island.
“I am pleased to see that the number of applicants from the military community on Okinawa increases every year,” he added. “There are many Americans who deserve recognition for their contributions to local communities.”
Landen was honored for working with local public schools, community associations and Meio University, teaching English and American culture, and conducting basic Japanese and Okinawan culture classes for Marines. He also was singled out for community cleanup projects, Halloween and other activities involving Okinawan children and being an interpreter for several events.
Camp Kinser Marines and sailors were honored for being involved with the Okinawa community almost every week of the year, including conducting 30 visits to local elementary schools to teach English and 19 tours of the base for Japanese government officials, according to the award recommendation. Camp Kinser personnel also visited a local hospital to spend time with elderly Japanese patients.
The base also was singled out for its annual KinserFest, which saw more than 40,000 Japanese visit the camp for the weekend festivities in 2005.
Headquarters Battalion of the 3rd Marine Division on Camp Foster was singled out for hosting a safe-driving campaign in conjunction with Uruma city and for conducting several river cleanups and providing English language support for local schools and community associations.
The 3rd Medical Battalion was cited for community cleanups and beautification projects and for hosting a spring festival for three local nursery schools and providing volunteer English instructors for elementary schools.