KIN TOWN, Okinawa, Japan -- On a beautiful Okinawan afternoon, a group of Marines and Sailors passed through the gates of Camp Hansen on their way to a local hot spot. On this occasion, however, their typical activities of dining out and enjoying the nightlife were replaced by performing a few hours of community service.
With a combined force of 20 volunteers, Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit took a break from their pre-deployment training to clean the streets of a neighboring Okinawan community and aided in the completion of a local holiday mural here, Nov. 28. “The Marines and Sailors have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated our relationship with the Kin Town community,” said Navy Lt. Barrett Craig, the command chaplain for Combat Logistics Battalion-31, 31st MEU, and a native of Boulder, Colo. “We did this clean up because they have served us in so many ways and this is just another way to give back.” Splitting into two groups, the Marines followed the roads in and around Kin Town to remove trash and other miscellaneous debris. Keeping the waste separated into metals, paper and plastic for proper recycling, the Marines collected over 20 full bags. “Kin Town is where we enjoy a lot of our liberty during the weekends and it is nice to be given the opportunity to show our appreciation,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Dutzer, a Landing Support Specialist with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and a native of Downing Town, Pa. “This was a great way for us to show them that we care.”
A separate group of CLB-31 Marines were tasked with an artistic assignment, creating a Christmas mural outside of Camp Hansen’s Gate One. Spreading their Christmas spirit through the jolly colors of red and green, the Marines painted a holiday greeting surrounded by festive scenes of snow men and Santa Claus. “The junior Marines were excited to come out here and participate in this clean-up.” Sgt. Forrest Valdez, a squad leader with CLB-31 and a native of San Diego, Calif. “We all have a huge feeling of accomplishment.”
The day’s events highlighted the Marine Corps’ focus on ensuring Marines mirror their exceptional performance in combat with exceptional performance in their communities. “We don’t just strive to be excellent Marines and Sailors, we strive to be excellent citizens no matter where we are,” said Craig. “Opportunities like this let us demonstrate our dedication to being upstanding member’s of the community.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.