From Osan to Okinawa, US troops celebrate the Fourth in the Far East

A couple watches the fireworks at Camp Zama, Japan's, Independence Day celebration Saturday, June 29, 2019.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 3, 2019

TOKYO — Some will party on the beach and others will drink cold beer on the flight line, but no matter where servicemembers and their families are based in the Far East, there’ll be a fun-filled celebration of American independence this week.

Some celebrations have already finished. On Camp Zama, home of U.S. Army Japan, for example, troops invited 10,000 of their Japanese neighbors inside the gates for an early Independence Day event on Saturday.

The celebration started with a local band marching through the base waving flags for a crowd of revelers fueled by hot dogs and hamburgers served up by a gaggle of food vendors.

At Yokota Air Base — home of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force in western Tokyo — troops and their families were invited to a “Celebrate America” event Wednesday that featured a performance by rock band American Hitmen, a magic show, dancers, motocross and martial arts demonstrations, juggling, balloons and fireworks.

Many Pacific bases will hold their celebrations on Thursday, but with the time difference between the region and the U.S. they’ll still be partying before friends and family back home get started.

Misawa Air Base — home of the 35th Fighter Wing in northeastern Japan — is planning a party on the shores of nearby Lake Ogawara. Festivities will kick off at the Base Beach from 2 p.m. and include sand castle building, volleyball, a tug of war contest and fireworks.

At Yokosuka Naval Base, home of the 7th Fleet, celebrations Thursday will include carnival games, bumper boats, a dunking booth and plenty of food and drinks. The evening will close with live music followed by fireworks.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is throwing a four-hour block party at the Sakura Theater parking lot starting 2 p.m. Thursday with carnival games, rides, food and drinks. The base is screening free movies - “Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse” at noon and “Spiderman: Homecoming” at 3 p.m.

Okinawa’s festivities start late on Saturday with concerts by Jason Derulo at 8 p.m. at the “Camp Foster Festival” and Kid Ink, from 10:30 p.m. at Kadena Air Base’s Rocker Enlisted Club.

Kid Ink will perform a second concert at Camp Foster at 7.30 p.m. Sunday. A fireworks display will follow the concert.

Sasebo Naval Base, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, is holding a “Rockets N’ Rods Independence Day Celebration” starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at Nimitz Park and concluding with fireworks at 8:45 p.m.

The event includes carnival games, bouncy castles for kids, food and drink stands, a classic car show and live music from White Rabbits and Jared & the Mill.

Korea celebrations

In South Korea, Osan Air Base, home of the 51st Fighter Wing, plans to open its flight line from 5-9.30 p.m. Thursday for “Liberty Fest 2019,” featuring entertainment, food, drinks, children’s play areas and a 15-minute fireworks display launching at 9 p.m. Entertainment includes taekwondo and live music from The Titans, Pentasonic and electronics extreme group Rapine.

Camp Humphreys, home of the Eighth Army and 2nd Infantry Division south of Seoul, will host “Celebrate Independence 2019” at the new Downtown Plaza from 4-9 p.m. Thursday, with fireworks scheduled from 8:45 p.m.

Live entertainment includes the 8th Army Rock Band, the USO Troop Show and a performance by rapper Kid Ink. There will also be an auto show and watermelon- and pie-eating contests as well as bouncy castles, face painting, plant craft and caricature artists to entertain kids.

Daegu’s Camp Walker will hold its Independence Day event from 5 p.m. concluding with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Servicemembers and families can expect food, games, a kid’s zone, giveaways and live entertainment.

And Yongsan Garrison, in the heart of Seoul, is holding the final July Fourth fireworks display ever at the installation starting at 9 p.m. Thursday. The base expects more than 400 local community members along with soldiers, civilians and their families at the celebration.

Other events at Yongsan include a 5K run at 7 a.m., and starting at noon at fields 5 and 7, clowns and stilt walkers, live music and DJs, pie- and watermelon-eating contests and other activities.


A child dances during a performance by the American Hitmen at the Celebrate American festival on Yokota Air Base, Japan, Wednesday, July 3, 2019.