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Flight Line Fair fosters international relations

Date Posted: 2004-07-16

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan — Each year, people travel from across Okinawa to the Futenma Flight Line Fair to enjoy the wide variety of live music, food, games and rides; however, the fair also hosts an opportunity for Okinawans and Americans to share each other’s culture and build a strong relationship.

Hosted on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma July 3-4, the fair is one of few opportunities for Okinawans to come aboard a Marine Corps installation and see firsthand what Marines do while enjoying festivities with them.

This year was Tamae Iesuki’s first time to the fair, and the local automotive mechanic said he came to promote his company and meet more Americans.

Although Iesuki went to the fair to represent his company, he said it also provided him an opportunity to see what is done on Futenma.

“I understand better, after seeing the aircraft display, what they do here on Futenma,” he said.

Yoshimitsu Tamashiro, owner of a local auto garage, also came to represent his company but said it is important to communicate with Americans.

“It is important to talk to Americans because there are a lot of bases around, and we can always use more friends,” said Tamashiro.

Lance Cpl. Justin A. Hubbel said he thought it was great to invite the locals on base and build rapport with them.

“This will let them know we’re here and build a good relationship with the Japanese people. It will let them know how Americans are and let us know how they are. It’s always good to have friends in different parts of the world,” said Hubbel, an information system coordinator with Marine Aircraft Support Squadron-2, Marine Air Control Group-18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

To attract the diverse crowd, the fair hosted many activities for people of all ages.

A large aircraft display allowed people to board many of the aircraft and see what Marines work on and complete missions with; a large variety of rides, slides and games was set up for children to enjoy and win prizes; food vendors from both on and off base provided food from many cultures; and live music performed from many bands attracted a large crowd.

The best part of the fair is getting up on the stage and seeing all of the Okinawans and military members laughing and smiling. It’s relieving to see these people enjoying themselves, said Don Purdy, a sound technician for the Food Beverage and Entertainment branch of Marine Corps Community Services.

Purdy said MCCS provides national recording acts that Okinawa and Japan cannot, and the concerts give servicemembers and locals a chance to interact.

“I think it’s great. I think we should take one of these festivals out in town and pull more people and do more of these on a larger scale,” Purdy said.

Purdy said the fair will attract 20-30 thousand people over two days and it will allow the Okinawans to see the base.

“Its hard for Okinawans to understand why there are bases on their land. We need to invite them on sometimes,” Purdy said.

Purdy also said the locals bring their culture to the fair in the forms of traditional food, Eisa dancing and Taiko drumming.

“They enjoy it. I’ve never heard anything bad. They always say ‘great fair. You should do this out in town,’” Purdy said.

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