Play Ball! Marines, Kin Town residents take to field for camaraderie
KIN TOWN, OKINAWA, Japan -- A ball is hurled through the air, the wind whistling as it closes in with its target. Just as it is about to reach the catcher’s glove, a wooden bat appears, colliding with the ball and sending it flying to the outfield.
The Camp Hansen Tigers, a team comprised of U.S. service members stationed on Okinawa, competed in a baseball scrimmage with the Kin Town Eagles June 21 at the Kin Town Baseball Stadium.
“Sports are a successful way to build friendship,” said Hajime Nakama, the Kin Town mayor. “The players share a love for the game and friendly competition. They compete against each other during the game and share the sweat and effort, but after it is finished they still remain friendly.”
For the Marines, it was a chance to get out and share a fun experience with their neighbors while also doing something they enjoyed, according to Lance Cpl. Mariano Silva, a coach for the Camp Hansen Tigers and field radio operator with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
“Being out here and playing a game builds morale and friendship at the same time,” said Silva, a Wichita, Kansas, native. “We cheer each other on while also doing our best to win, but we don’t take it personally. We’re just having a good time and sharing the fun.”
Positive relations are important and every opportunity to build them should be taken, according to Col. Sean M. McBride, the commanding officer of III MHG, III MEF, and the camp commander of Camp Hansen.
“It’s important to have a good relationship with your host nation,” said McBride, a Butte, Montana, native. “Baseball is America’s pastime and is also something the people of Okinawa enjoy. Sharing this is just one of the ways we can maintain that positive relationship.”
The people of Kin Town and the Marines of Camp Hansen are constantly planning new ways to interact, according to Nakama.
“I would like if we could include a team from the Marine Corps to participate in the children’s league,” said Nakama. “It fosters a healthy mind and body while also building the friendships earlier on.”
The game concluded with the Eagles claiming a 19-3 victory over the Tigers. After the game, the teams shook hands and posed for a group photo before moving to Camp Hansen to share dinner and conversation at The Palms.
“What better way is there to bring people together than sharing something they are interested in,” said McBride. “Afterwards they can sit down, talk over a good meal, and leave with a good memory.”
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