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Boys’ dreams take high priority over local politics

Date Posted: 2005-08-27

Tens of thousands streamed onto the flightline for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station’s Flightline festival last weekend, surpassing expectations and surprising local officials.

Many had predicted a touchy time for the annual event, held only a few hundred yards and a year after a Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter crashed outside the base onto Okinawa International University. It didn’t turn out that way, at all.

Swarms of local youngsters clamored to get aboard the Marine Corps CH-53D on display, the same model as the one which crashed. Servicemen escorted the boys—and a few girls—through the helicopter, allowing them hands on feels of the controls, gun systems and the cockpit. Smiles and laughter were prevalent throughout the weekend.

Local newspapers had quoted officials as being skeptical about the Futenma Flightline Festival’s popularity this year, claiming the local Ginowan community was too emotionally charged and upset about last year’s accident. The kids and their parents proved that wrong, as excitement rippled through the crowds all weekend.

Even one father begrudgingly noted “I know the helicopter accident was not nice, but a festival is a festival, and everyone must feel happy and have good experiences.” He further told reporters “I want my son to know about Futenma and the Flightline Fair, and I want my son to experience and touch American life too.”

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