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Schwarzenegger is surprise guest at Marine Corps Ball in Tokyo

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, thanks the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Howard Baker, for his introduction to the guests of Marine Security Guard Detachment Tokyo's Marine Corps Ball.

JIM O€™DONNELL / S&S

By JIM O’DONNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 14, 2004

TOKYO — For some, he’s the action hero that killed the alien in “Predator.” To others, he’s the “Terminator.” To California residents he’s Gov. Schwarzenegger — but to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the men and women of the U.S. military are the true action stars.

Schwarzenegger expressed that sentiment Friday night at the New Sanno Hotel, where he was the surprise special guest of the Marine Security Guard Detachment’s Marine Corps Ball.

Schwarzenegger, who has been in Japan on a trade mission since Wednesday, was invited to the celebration by Howard Baker, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, and the U.S. Embassy Marine Security Guard detachment.

“When I heard you had this celebration here today, I told the ambassador that there is no way I would miss it,” Schwarzenegger told the crowd Friday.

“It’s great to be here with the greatest of the great, and the strongest of the strong. I am honored to join you tonight, to celebrate the 229th anniversary of the birth of the Marine Corps.”

During his speech to the more than 100 Marine Corps Ball guests, the governor spoke reverently about the Marine Corps’ past.

“You have always been there on the front lines fighting to protect America and I know you have a great history of kicking some serious butt.”

He attributed America’s accomplishments as a nation to its military.

“The only reason why people become so successful in America, and the only reason why this country is so successful, is because of you brave men and women right here, you are the ones who protect the liberty,” he said. “You are protecting this great country of America and defending the American dream.”

“I want to thank all of you for the great work you are doing. You are doing a fantastic job of protecting our nation and safeguarding the stability of” the Western Pacific, Schwarzenegger said. “I only play an action hero, you people are the true action heroes.”

For the 14 Marines of the embassy detachment, it was a chance to shake hands with an American cinema icon. Embassy guard duty was being covered for the night by Seoul’s Embassy guard detachment so the Tokyo guards could attend the ball.

“It was outstanding, a dream come true,” said Sgt. Arnaldo Medina of Newark, N.J. “I am a big fan of his movies, and to see him out here was unreal. I was very surprised.”

Cpl. Dustin Collins of Malone, N.Y., the youngest Marine present, said the governor’s presence was “pretty great.”

“It was a great honor,” Collins said. “It was a real pleasure having him here. I really appreciated what he had to say about us.

But the “Governator’s” appearance wasn’t without a hiccup.

Marine Corps Ball tradition involves the presentation of the ceremonial cake, which is cut by the youngest Marine and the oldest Marine in attendance.

This part of the ball was delayed by Schwarzenegger’s appearance.

Cpl. Zachery Navo, one of the four Marines responsible for parading the cake, wasn’t fazed by the delay.

“We’re Marines — we adapt and overcome,” said Navo, who paraded the cake in front of the audience after Schwarzenegger left. “It’s not a Marine Ball until you cut that cake.”

Despite a little inconvenience, the Visalia, Calif., resident was happy about the surprise guest.

“It really was great, awesome,” to get to shake his governor’s hand, he said.


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, greets Capt. Jeff Petersen (at left, in uniform) of Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan, and Dustin Wyrick (foreground) during the Marine Security Guard Detachment Tokyo's Marine Corps Ball Friday night.
JIM O€™DONNELL / S&S

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