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Service members paint the town

Date Posted: 2004-07-29

NAGO, OKINAWA, Japan — Wiping sweat off his brow, a Marine pours thick, orange paint from a one-gallon bucket for a local resident to use. Exchanging a few mutual words, they smile and continue to work in the sweltering Okinawa heat.

This was the scene when twenty-nine service members from Camp Schwab volunteered to help local residents paint various buildings, improving the curbside-appeal of their community here July 18.

“Nago is sometimes considered a ghost town,” said Morihide Ogido, president of the Nago City Chamber of Commerce. “The purpose of this project is to bring people back to the area.”

Service members from Camp Schwab were requested to volunteer for this task with only two days notice. However, the outcome was greater than expected, explained Staff Sgt. Marvin E. Hernandez-Garcia, embarkation and combat service support specialist with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

“The service members showed a lot of initiative when they signed up,” Hernandez-Garcia said. “Even though it was their day off, I had over 20 Marines ready to go within 10 minutes of asking for volunteers.”

This is the first time Marines and sailors have helped paint this area, according to Ogido.

“It’s impressive to see the residents bond together and work as a team to better their own community,” said Sgt. Alan B. Clark, nuclear biological and chemical chief with 3rd Recon. Bn. “You don’t see that very often.”

The Nago City Social Business Establishment Association provided the necessary equipment to complete the project.

The service members and more than 150 local residents were prepared for the day-long project with scaffolds, ladders, tarps and about 100 buckets of paint.

After receiving maps, service members and Okinawans combined into groups of six and seven, walked to their designated buildings marked with spray painted numbers and painted them with the corresponding colors of either orange, pink, red or blue.

“Camp Schwab is part of our community,” Ogido said. “With this project, our residents were able to get to know the (service members) better.”

The residents provided lunch to show their appreciation for the hard work the service members completed.

“It was exciting to watch the (service members) help out our community,” said Tomoko Takagi, a local resident who volunteered to paint. “They impressed me by working hard and getting the job done without hesitation.”

After nearly seven hours of painting, the project ended with a closing ceremony, which included remarks from residents as well as service members.

“It was great to be here to see how the community works together,” said Lance Cpl. Jerrmichael M. Canson, field radio operator with 3rd Recon. Bn. “I look forward to spending more time in the future with the community.”

Concluding a hard-day’s work, the mayor of Nago City, Tateo Kishimoto spoke to everyone who helped in the project.

“The day was a success because of the tremendous help from the (service members),” said Kishimoto said. “The friendship with our neighbors from Camp Schwab will be around long after the paint dries on our city walls.”

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