Tigers in Kadena Town

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Airmen from the 909th Aircraft Maintenance Unit volunteered with the Kadena Ryoku Ju Kai, to landscape Yura Elementary School March 5, 2017.

The Airmen of the 909th AMU consistently volunteer in Kadena Town to build better relations with the Okinawan community and to better themselves.

“Every month, usually on the third Sunday, we go out with a government volunteer group, Kadena Ryoku Ju Kai, to landscape around Kadena Town,” said Tech. Sgt. James Rivas, 909th AMU specialist section chief. “They have been doing this for the past 10 years, and have won multiple awards from Okinawa and Japan.”

Rivas first started volunteering for the group with his father-in-law two years ago to get to know him better. After a few times, he realized he enjoyed volunteering with the group and invited his coworkers to join him. Other members of the 909th AMU enjoyed volunteering and have volunteered alongside Rivas ever since.

“We’ve landscaped schools, police stations, parks and the trees on the regular streets of Kadena Town,” Rivas said. “The ages of the local volunteers range from mid-30s to early 90s, and I’m always in awe on how these guys in their 70s still climb up in the trees.”

Yashige Uechi, Kadena Ryuku Ju Kai member and Rivas’s father-in-law, has volunteered with the Kadena Ryoku Ju Kai for more than a decade.

“This volunteer group means a lot to me,” Uechi said. “I love having my son-in-law volunteering with me and the help he brings. More volunteers are always welcome.”

Uechi said the efforts of the Airmen volunteering are appreciated by everyone in the local community. In recognition of their volunteer efforts, the Kadena Town mayor has sent letters of appreciation to consistent volunteers from the 909th AMU.

According to Rivas, Airmen volunteering in the community sets a positive image and builds relations.

“I think it shows that we care,” Rivas said. “Not only are we giving back to the community, but we are also getting to know our neighbors and building comradery amongst ourselves outside of work.”

Rivas explained Kadena Town residents always show signs of appreciation whenever the volunteers come out.

“Members from the 909th always have great interactions with the locals, and the locals are always glad to teach newcomers how to appropriately trim a tree,” Rivas continued. “I think the 909th AMU has been a big player in volunteering efforts for the community of Kadena Town and I’m glad to be a part of that.”