Jingle Bell Challenge brings service members holiday cheer

by Pvt. Nicole Rogge
10th Marine Regiment

MCAS FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members across Okinawa participated in the Annual Jingle Bell Challenge Dec. 1 on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The challenge hosted 11 units made up of approximately 1,000 participants. Marines, sailors and soldiers competed against each other in five squad competitions building holiday spirit through friendly rivalry.

“Today we are having our Annual Jingle Bell Challenge,” said Ray Smith, the Marine Corps Community Services athletic director for MCAS Futenma. “It is for the service members to come out and celebrate the Christmas spirit.”

Service members were invited to dress up in festive attire for the event. Many wore red and green, while others hung ornaments on their shirts to show their Christmas spirit.

“Everyone is enjoying themselves out here during this event,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Jerry Taylor, the sergeant major of MCAS Futenma. “It’s great to bring out the Christmas spirit, and see everyone in creative attire.”

This year marked the first time the soldiers on MCAS Futenma participated in the challenge alongside the Marines and sailors.

“We don’t really get to go out and compete with other branches too often,” said Spc. Tyler Heim, a soldier who participated in the Jingle Bell Challenge. “So it’s nice to be around people who are so friendly. It makes everyone feel like family.”

Ten-person teams consisting of various ranks competed in multiple events during the challenge. Together they faced off in Humvee pulls, tug-of-war, relay races and more. During each event, team members cheered on the sideline, encouraging each other to push through the pain.

“We are all here together,” said Marine Sgt. Heather Fiorentino, a career planner with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma. “This is about building camaraderie with the person to your left and right.”

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