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Annual beach splash unites military, local communities

Date Posted: 2004-07-29

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan — More than 6,000 Okinawans, service members and their families headed to Oura Wan Beach here July 24-25 for the 12th Annual Beach Splash sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services.

Festival guests spent the weekend at the beach soaking up the sun, swimming, kayaking and listening to live musical performances by Keith Floyd, Sanetta and the musical group Hip 2 Soul.

“We have Okinawan guests from all over the island who look forward to this event each year,” said Ron Cook, MCCS special events coordinator. “We have an outstanding relationship with the Okinawan communities, and this event gets better every year.”

Urasoe resident Masahide Yoshimatsu brought his two children and five-year-old niece to enjoy a day at the beach.

“The military has been very kind,” Yoshimatsu said. “This is our second time to (the event), and my kids had a great time.”

Marine Corps Community Services provided free banana boat rides, kayaks and paddleboats to cruise through the ocean.

“I came out here because I love the ocean and people,” said Lance Cpl. Mary B. Enriquez, a finance technician with Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group. “Today was my first time kayaking, and it was pretty fun. We kayaked out to an island and met some Okinawans.”

For one Marine, spending the weekend at Oura Wan Beach brought back memories he shared with his two children.

“I spent a couple of years with Combat Engineer Company, and Camp Schwab is near and dear to me,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Miguel N. Moreno, engineer chief, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. “I’ve had a lot of great times at Oura Wan Beach, and I felt drawn to it. I’d like to see a lot more people here on a regular basis.”

While many enjoyed the free, recreational activities, athletes competed in the bench press competition, volleyball tournament and aquathon, consisting of a 750-meter swim and five-kilometer run.

Spectators’ eyes were fixed on the chests of the bench press competitors showing off their strength.

Kazushi Miyagi astonished the crowd when he bench pressed 520 pounds. Miyagi broke the Far East Officials Association’s bench press record, which was 500 pounds in his weight class of 220-241 pounds. He was also named overall male champion for the competition, according to Robert Gorsky, Camp Schwab athletics sports supervisor.

Erina Yamakawa, a sixth-grader from Omiya Elementary School in Nago, said it was fun and exciting for her and her family to spend time with service members and she plans on coming back next year.

“This is a great way to interact with Okinawans, and it gives families an opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy the beach with the million-dollar view,” Moreno said. “What this does is bring back a little piece of home to Marines who are here without families.”

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