Uken Beach brightened by service, community members
URUMA CITY, Okinawa, Japan -- Once the weekend arrives, many people choose to sleep in a little longer. However, for some service members, the weekend provides an opportunity to give back to the local community.
More than 30 service members stationed at Camp Courtney, along with Okinawan students of the Camp Courtney Monday English class, volunteered their time to participate in a community relations event to clean up Uken beach Oct. 21.
"I think that being involved in the community is a good thing," said Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, the sergeant major for Camp Courtney and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. "It shows we care about the community and allows the service members a chance to learn about the local culture. It's a fanstastic way we can link the service members and the local community together."
Community relations events not only help the local community, but allow service members a chance to get out and see various locations across the island while lending a helping hand, according to Saucedo.
"It is a good thing for service members to participate in events like this because it gives them an opportunity to see the island, get out of the barracks, and contribute something back to our hosts," said Saucedo.
The Okinawan students appreciated the opportunity to work with the service members and give back to the community.
"I think it is a good experience working with the service members here," said Midori Chinen, a student of the English class. "I was surprised at how much garbage we picked up and how many people were here."
Participating in these events allows service members and the local community to work together and strengthen the relationship between them, according to Lance Cpl. Travis O. Bratcher, a Marine Air-Ground Task Force planning specialist, G-5, force deployment and execution, III MEF.
"I feel the community appreciates us coming out here to clean the beach," said Bratcher. "Some Okinawans who were driving by saw us cleaning and stopped to help."
The event was successful, and both the service members and students appeared to enjoy themselves.
"I had a lot of fun being out here cleaning the beach with everyone," said Chinen. "It gives me a chance to meet new people. I hope we can do this again."