Futenma Flightline Fair bridges gap
Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma -- Marine Corps Air Station Futenma hosted its annual Futenma Flightline Fair June 6-7, with more than 15,000 attendees.
Visitors were treated to carnival games, rides, live entertainment and food. Along with hot meals and entertainment, the fair also featured static displays of various aircraft and military vehicles including two MV-22B Ospreys, a UH-1Y Huey and a P-19B aircraft rescue fire fighting vehicle. Additional aircraft were flown from Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the Futenma flightline, where visitors had the opportunity to meet the crew.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what happens on Futenma,” said Capt. Matthew Kaczynski, adjutant to the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. “(The fair) allows us to correct those misconceptions. You don’t have to worry about any misunderstanding when you get the chance to talk to the actual air crew of an osprey face to face.”
The fair is an opportunity to allow Okinawa residents the chance to see exactly what goes on behind the gates of Futenma, according to Col. Peter Lee, the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma.
Though many service members volunteered their free time facilitating the festival, not all of them were there in an official capacity. Many more were able to enjoy the festival and explore the aircraft and vehicles, which they support.
“It’s a way for our Marines to get out, have some fun and see the role that Futenma plays in the Marine Corps,” said Lee.
The Marines who attend the fair as guests play just as important of a role as the Marines operating the static displays, according to Lee.
“It allows the (Okinawa residents) to not only see them as Marines but also as Americans,” explained Lee. “It’s a great way to showcase American culture.”
For service members, it’s also a chance to meet with Okinawa residents.
“This is my third year coming to this event and every year I make a new friend,” said Cpl. Terrance Slaughter, the MCAS Futenma Single Marine Program president. “It’s great because you start to see those same people come back to other events. It’s a great way to build a relationship between (service members) and (Okinawa residents).”
Together, the Okinawa residents and the service members enjoyed the weekend of festivities, which was capped off with a performance by pop singer and guitarist, Michelle Branch. At the end of the performance, the fair concluded with a fireworks show to be remembered.
“The mission of the fair was definitely accomplished,” stated Kaczynski. “It was a great opportunity to open up our gates and show everyone what Futenma is all about.”