From Sunset to Araha

OKINAWA, Japan -- Volunteers from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Air Force cleaned up a mile stretch of beach on Okinawa Oct. 9, 2016, as part of a beach cleanup to build partnerships while giving back to the Okinawan community.

Together, more than 40 people from Naha Air Base and Kadena Air Base military members and their families picked up more than 20 bags worth of trash and debris from both Araha and Sunset Beach.

“Today we came together with the JASDF to clean up one of the beaches used by the local community,” said Staff Sgt. Marshall Merriweather 18th Mission Support Group executive staff.

The event kicked off with a one-mile trek from Sunset Beach to the cleanup site at Arah Beach. There, volunteers received a resiliency brief by event coordinators –Merriweather and JASDF Staff Sgt. Asahide Zukaran, 9th Air Wing support staff.

Afterwards, the volunteers separated into small groups building partnership and understanding by getting to know each other through while cleaning the beaches. The items gathered ranged in size from bottle caps and cigarettes to electronic speakers and a twin sized mattress.

After two hours of cleaning and team building the event ended.

“We accomplished a lot today,” said. Senior Airman Jasmin Amaral, 18th Security Forces Squadron pass and registration clerk. “I had a lot of fun today and I learned a lot about the JASDF along with trying to learn a little Japanese. I think this is a great way to build better relationships and I hope we continue to do more events like this.”

After the event, volunteers gathered around to look at the results of their efforts and the event coordinators thanked everyone for their participation and hard work.

“Today was a great event that brought further understanding between the JASDF and USAF members,” Zukaran said. “This is a great opportunity benefiting both our military and civilian communities.”

“I want to say thank you to everyone that came out today, because without you, this would not have been possible,” Merriweather added. “I also want to give a special thanks to our JASDF partners and to our translator Ms. Mai Taira, [18th MSG Kadena Disciplinary Action Program director,] for their overwhelming support to this event.”