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Marines, sailors dance, sing at local hospital

Date Posted: 2004-07-22

URASOE CITY, OKINAWA, Japan — There is a saying that the most precious gift you can give someone is your time.

Time is what eight Marines and sailors from Camp Kinser gave to the patients of Dojin Hospital’s geriatric intensive care unit, July 15.

“Normally the residents here don’t have visitors,” said Lt j.g. John Keith, battalion chaplain, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group. “So the Marines and sailors came up here and made their day a whole lot better.”

Showing off their dance moves and singing voices, the service members performed to several songs including “The Hokey Pokey” and “Megumi no Hito,” a Japanese pop song.

According to Keith, the interaction between the service members and the elderly patients led to many smiles, making the visit a positive experience for both groups.

“Community relations like this helps service members get experience outside of what they do on a daily basis,” Keith said. “This gives them a chance to put a face to the outside community and allows them to get up close and personal and makes them feel like they are doing something worthwhile.”

For Sgt. Michael T. McAleer, tactical network specialist, operations, 3rd FSSG, who recently came to Okinawa, it was his first time participating in a community relations project.

“I decided to come out here because I am a people person,” McAleer said. “I like to go out, see the community and help where I can. I have been blessed with a lot of fortunes and good things, and I like to give back when I can.”

Another newcomer to Okinawa, Lance Cpl. Aaron J. Gentili, supply administration clerk, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, had been on Okinawa just three days and couldn’t wait to start exploring his new surroundings.

“I wanted to get out and see some of Japan, not just stuff people normally do like go to bars,” Gentili said. “I wanted to see the culture.

“When you are in someone else’s country, it opens up your eyes to what you are doing in your life. It’s humbling putting forth the effort to sing songs and bring smiles to the faces of so many people,” Gentili said.

The service members were not the only ones gaining something from their visit to the hospital.

“Many of these patients experienced the (Battle of Okinawa), and it is a great opportunity for them to make a connection with the good-hearted Americans who come here and volunteer to entertain them,” said Michiko Gushiken, head nurse, geriatric intensive care unit, Dojin Hospital.

“It is important to have the communication and friendship between the two so there is a healing and the patients feel better.”

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