7th Comm Bn share traditions with nursing home

by Lance Cpl. Tyler Giguere、III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

KIN TOWN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Tents are spread throughout the yard with tables of food lined underneath. As Marines, families, and staff members gather to taste some of the home cooked meals, music begins to play and other staff members begin to walk out wearing traditional Eisa costumes.

The food, music and traditional clothing were all parts of a party hosted for the Marines of 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, who have been volunteering at the Hikarigaoka Nursing Home in Okinawa. The Marines and Hikarigaoka staff have worked together and formed bonds through years of volunteering and celebrations.

“Our battalion has been [volunteering] for 20 years now,” said Capt. Jason E. Misner, the company commander of Headquarters Company, 7th Comm. Bn. “We are keeping the bonds we have made, and continuing this tradition. The most important part of this is sharing our culture with them, and their culture with us.”

The party consisted of three major events. First, local Okinawan foods were served, followed by the Marines and staff dancing to several songs, and finally group karaoke of American and Japanese songs.

“The most special event for me was the Marines and their families singing karaoke with our people,” said Fumihiro Imakura the head caregiver at Hikarigaoka Nursing Home. “Even if we don’t understand the songs, we get to share the joy and laughs of karaoke.”

For more than a decade, Marines have mowed the grounds, interacted with the residents of the home and hosted parties to share culture.

“I think it’s good for the people of Okinawa to make friends with the American people,” said Yashal Endo, a caretaker at the nursing home. “These parties help bring us closer together. We want to provide as many opportunities as we can for the residents to have a great time and enjoy interaction with the Marines.”

Everyone involved agrees this two decade long tradition should continue in the future, according to Imakura. There is already a Thanksgiving party being planned to share American culture, and a New Year’s party to share the Okinawan culture.

“Marines from Camp Hansen bring a sense of joy to our facility,” said Imakura from Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. “They bring the spirit of volunteering and offer very enjoyable moments. We hope this will continue in the future.”

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