CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- As she took her seat in the classroom, she felt nervous and excited. She felt all eyes on her, and realizing that in a room full of Marines, a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force member stood out. She knew the next three weeks would be a challenge.
Sgt. Mizuho Ban, a radio communicator with 1st Electronic Warfare Unit, 2nd Direction Finding Company, attended the Corporal’s Course along with Marines, sailors and airmen Jan. 23 through Feb. 10 aboard Camp Foster.
The three week long course provides Marine Noncommissioned Officers with leadership training to enhance their professional qualifications as they take on greater responsibility. The class welcomes other branches of service and JGSDF to train alongside Marines.
During the first week, Ban’s goal was to fit in, she planned to work hard not to fall behind in physical training or the classes.
Corporal’s Course is designed to be challenging, to push service members physically and mentally, and make them stronger leaders. The first day let Ban know where she stood among her fellow classmates with a Marine Physical Fitness Test.
“The first workout was hard as hell,” said Ban. “I thought I was going to fail sooner or later. I’m a slow runner, and hadn’t trained or prepared much before attending the course, but I really should have. The Marines have such strength and power.”
Ban was chosen to travel over 700 miles from Chitose City, Hokkaido, Japan, to attend the course due to her high level of English comprehension.
By the second week, Ban made friends who helped her study during the classes and took time to get to know her on the weekends.
She was having fun, but started to feel exhausted, mentally and physically. She had been through hectic days surrounded by new people, but was enjoying the new experience
“Week three passed by so fast,” said Ban. “We had the final exam, Combat Fitness Test, PFT, and mess night as we were finishing the course. This Corporal’s Course was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”
Even as a sergeant, Ban learned a lot from the corporals she went through the course with.
“I’m really glad that I was selected to attend, and that I finished this course. I feel confident and satisfied,” said Ban. “The Marines, sailors, airmen and faculty helped me a lot. They kept lifting me up. After three weeks of training and help from my peers. I became stronger both mentally and physically. I could not have done this without them.”
Ban looks forward to take what she learned and train her subordinates.
“It was my honor and privilege to be a part of Corporal's course 525-17,” said Ban. “I treasure all the memories and experiences I had, and I'll never forget the moments with all of the faculty advisors, peers and supporters who made this course the greatest experience in my life.”
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Sgt. Mizuho Ban attends mess night during Corporal’s Course Feb. 9 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. Mess night is a Marine Corps tradition where Marines honor the past and look forward to the future. Ban travelled over 700 miles from Chitose City, Hokkaido, Japan, to attend the course. Ban has been in the JGSDF for eight years, and is a radio communicator with 1st Electronic Warfare Unit, 2nd Direction Finding Company.