Friendship Saturday unites Kin Town, Marines
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Marines of Camp Hansen opened their gates to the citizens of the neighboring city of Kin Town on Jan. 17.
The event drew a small crowd of Kin residence waiting for the gates to open.
Marines and civilians on Camp Hansen put together the first Friendship Saturday last October to give the local community a chance to explore the installation’s facilities and eateries.
“Today’s attendance was better than the last Friendship Friday we held here on Camp Hansen,” said Maj. Andrew A. Merz, the camp operations officer. “We purposely scheduled it on a Saturday due to community leaders informing us we would have a better turnout if we did it on a Saturday.”
Camp Commander Col. Sean M. McBride decided to host the friendship days between festivals to give the community more chances to visit the base, according to Merz.
“The thought process is that we want our neighbors to view us as part of the local community, not separate,” said Merz, from Lansing, Michigan. “We don’t want to be that mystery place next door. We want to be part of the local community. It’s just another community relations opportunity.”
Marines stood at the main gate assisting the locals and guided them in the right direction, according to Pfc. Darwin Rivera, a fire support man with Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, currently assigned to camp guard.
“I like being able to come on base and know that the Marines welcome us as their neighbors,” said Assa Asano, a resident of Kin Town.
Camp Hansen personnel plan to continue hosting Friendship Saturday to let more of the community enjoy what the base has to offer.