Okinawa International University students tour Camp Kinser

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild

Okinawa International University students tour Camp Kinser

by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan -- As students with Okinawa International University offboarded the bus on Camp Kinser, many were stepping foot on a U.S. Marine Corps installation for the first time. Students studying economics at the University participated in an interactive tour of the lifestyle, history and current role of the Marine Corps on Nov. 22.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, students with Okinawa International University were welcomed onto Camp Kinser and participated in a guided tour of the base. The tour included a question and answer interactive class between the students and Marines, a visit to the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display, lunch at the Camp Kinser Mess Hall, and was followed by a walkthrough of Marines’ living quarters.

“The purpose of this visit is to help our local community residents develop a positive and friendly relationship with the Marine Corps and bases here on Okinawa,” said Col. Neil Owens, the assistant chief of staff of G-7, government and external affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “I believe that engagements with the local community like this are always fun, positive and successful.”

Owens explained that his favorite experience throughout the day was answering all of the questions the students had. He explained that they were extremely eager to learn about, not only the history of the Marine Corps, but also in hearing personal stories on where Marines grew up and why they joined the military.

The interactive class, translated with the help of community relations specialists, entailed information on how the Marine Corps operates, the everyday duties of Marines, and why the Marine Corps is present in Okinawa. After observing artifacts and learning the history presented during the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display tour and enjoying a meal at the mess hall, the students were able to visit bachelor enlisted and officer quarters to visualize the daily lives of Marines around their own age.

“Today was my first time on a Marine Corps base,” said Shuzo Higa, one of the students. “When I first heard my class was taking this tour, I was very excited. I see Marine Corps bases every day, but I had no clue what they were about or what they have on them until today.”

Higa explained that prior to the tour, he had never before interacted or spoke with Marines. He explained that the experiences he had on base shed a positive light in his perspective of the military and changed his opinion about Marines.

Overall, the tour was an opportunity for the students to learn how Marine Corps installations positively affect the economic growth of Okinawa. The students additionally learned how Marines beneficially impact local communities through volunteering and community service.

“Through today’s experience, I have learned so much about what the Marine Corps does for our community,” said Higa. “I feel so much more comfortable and closer to Marines now, and I am excited to keep the relationships I made today.”

 

Photo caption:

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Douglas Burke, camp commander of Camp Kinser and the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, greets students with Okinawa International University before they begin a tour on Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 22, 2021. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, students with Okinawa International University were able to visit Camp Kinser and participate in a guided tour of the base. The tour included a question and answer interactive class between the students and Marines, a visit to the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display, lunch at the Camp Kinser Mess Hall, and was followed by a walkthrough of Marines’ living quarters. 

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