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For Marines it’s just another day at the beach

Date Posted: 2004-09-16

TROPICAL BEACH, OKINAWA, Japan — Although the summer season is slowly fading away, the beaches are still seeing their fair share of tourists. The white sand beaches can get crowded, and many beachgoers leave their trash behind for someone else to pick up.

Thirty-five Marines and sailors from 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, went to Tropical Beach, near the Okinawa Convention Center just a few miles from Camp Foster, Sept. 13 to help pick up that trash. The beach cleanup is one of the many activities the battalion does monthly to contribute to the community.

“We try to promote the concept of being selfless not selfish,” said Col. Doarin R. Lewis, the commanding officer.

According to Lewis, when he first took over the battalion in January, he sat down with his battalion’s leaders and tried to figure out how to give back to the community. Lewis wanted to do a community service project once a month and get Marines from the companies within his battalion together and do something fun.

After coming up with the concept of doing a beach cleanup, the questions were ”Where would they do it, and how would they get permission?” explained Navy Lt. Glenn A. Flemming, the battalion chaplain.

“I made a few phone calls, and someone suggested going to Tropical Beach,” Flemming said. “We got the permission to go ahead, so we planned our first cleanup in April, and our last cleanup will be in October when the beach closes for the year.”

During the cleanup, the Marines scoured the beach, picking up trash and other items that visitors left behind.

“I don’t mind picking up the trash because it’s something that I can do to give back to the Okinawans,” said Lance Cpl. Justin G. Hlas, a landing support specialist with Headquarters and Service Company. “If picking up trash helps improve our relations and shows them our respect for living here, I’ll try and volunteer every chance I get.”

After the beach cleanup, the Marines gathered around a flaming grill for hamburgers and hot dogs and a quick game of volleyball.

“I have volunteered before, and it is so much fun,” said Pfc. Laura S. Hernandez, a mechanic with Support Company. “I like coming to the beach and cleaning it up.”

After the day’s activities were through, the group of 35 climbed back onto the bus to head back to Camp Foster, leaving the beach cleaner and ready for a new day of tourists.

“Doing this beach cleanup is just one of the many things that we can do as Marines here on Okinawa,” Lewis said.

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