Marine volunteers ensure safety of Kin Town children
KIN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines, community volunteers and police officers with the Ishikawa Police Department came together for the department’s traffic safety campaign to assist with crosswalk duties Sept. 23-30 near the Kin Elementary School in Kin Town, Okinawa.
Local police departments throughout Okinawa implement traffic safety campaigns in order to promote safe-driving and heighten awareness of pedestrians and motorists alike, especially in school zones.
Marines and sailors volunteered their mornings to serve as crossing guards near the elementary school in support of the safety campaign.
“I hope that the local (residents of Okinawa) realize that we genuinely care about the safety and well-being of young children walking to school, and that Marines are willing to donate time to reinforce our commitment to Ishikawa’s safety campaign,” said Col. Stephen B. Lewallen, the commanding officer of III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “Having Camp Hansen Marines assist children at road crossings helps to highlight the fact that we care about the safety of both (the residents of Okinawa) and Department of Defense children who are walking to school, and should highlight the need for all drivers to be especially careful during the morning and afternoons when children are present going to and from their local schools.”
The Okinawa Prefectural Police personnel and Marines made an effective team working together to ensure safe-driving.
“We are very happy to have the support of the (Marines and sailors) from Camp Hansen because it shows that their leadership cares about the community,” said Yasuo Arakaki, an assistant police inspector with the Ishikawa Police Department. “I think having volunteers from Camp Hansen get involved with our traffic safety campaign will help remind the people who drive through town that the (Marine Corps’) leadership and the police authorities here take traffic safety very seriously.”
The Ishikawa Police Department holds the traffic safety campaign quarterly and often invites the nearby Marine Corps installations to participate in the campaign.
“We have a responsibility to assist our neighbors and (must) realize that we have an obligation as Marines to observe local laws and reinforce common themes such as traffic safety because it is in our mutual interest,” said Lewallen.
The campaign is designed to give the Marines and sailors an enhanced appreciation for the local community and law enforcement, coupled with a sense of community pride that extends beyond the fence line of Camp Hansen, according to Lewallen.
“For me, it is an opportunity to give back to the community and is just another way I can show my appreciation for the residents of Okinawa,” said Pfc. Micah M. Jewell, a field radio operator with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III MHG. “If we were back in the U.S., I think we would expect the same from visitors of another country. They care about their children’s safety just as much as we do, so it is important that we do what we can to show that (we care too).”