Wishes troops and their families a happy holiday season, amidst the Festival of Trees
Story and photos by Greg Mitchel, FLEACT, Yokosuka Public Affairs
Sailors, family members and friends had the rare opportunity to meet and greet with U.S. Ambassador to Japan, the Honorable Caroline Kennedy, at the Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka auditorium building, Dec. 17.
The position of U.S. Ambassador to Japan has previously been held by several distinguished individuals. Amongst those were Douglas MacArthur III, to more recently the former 42nd Vice President of the United States, Walter Mondale, to former Senator and White House Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan, Howard Henry Baker Jr.
Kennedy, recently appointed as the Ambassador to Japan by President Barrack Obama, was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry on November 12, 2013 and presented her credentials to Akihito, Emperor of Japan, on November 19, 2013. She relieves John Roos, who served From August 20, 2009 to August 12, 2013.
The Ambassador was greeted by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, Rear Adm. Terry Kraft and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Capt. David Glenister at Chez Romeo, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
After a brief introduction by Kraft, Kennedy took center stage to address those in attendance.
“Thank you so much – thank you all for coming,” said Kennedy. “This is really getting me in the Christmas spirit (by being) in here. It’s wonderful to be on a Navy base. Obviously I’m so proud to be a part of a Navy family and to be with all of you here. I know the holidays are a difficult time of year for people who are far from home and family. I just wanted to thank you on behalf of the embassy and myself, and all Americans really for your service and your sacrifice and I hope that all of you can feel part of this larger American family and take great pride in the service you are providing at this time of year, and all year.”
Prior to her engagement with service members and their families, Kennedy proceeded to USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), where she received full sideboys and honors to met with Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas for an office call and briefing.
Upon completion of the briefing, Kennedy then went to the USS Shiloh (CG 67) to meet with Commander, CTF-70, Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery and Commanding Officer, Capt. Kurush Morris, where she was given a brief of the ships mission, a tour of the workspaces and an opportunity to meet and greet with Sailors.
“It’s been great to get a chance to see some of this base; to see Shiloh and the Blue Ridge,” said Kennedy. “It’s been a wonderful welcome and a great introduction to the work that you do here. I’ve read about it and heard about it but it is not as impressive as seeing it for myself. I am proud to be a part of this team and to be here in Japan. It’s great to be able to spend Christmas with you and I wish all of you a blessed and peaceful holiday season.”
After speaking with service members and their families’ and taking photos one on one, Kennedy took a group photo with students from Yokosuka Middle School, and Nile C. Kinnick High School.
For the service members and their families in attendance, the chance to meet the Ambassador was a unique experience, no matter what generation they were from.
“I came here as a part of my student council and waited to see Caroline Kennedy speak,” said Yokosuka Middle School 6th grader Ariana Shannon. “Afterwards she took a group photo with all of us and I thought it was very cool just because she is the Ambassador to Japan. It is just interesting to say that I met a Kennedy which is kind of like American royalty some might say. My favorite part was getting the chance to stand next to her in the picture.”
Upon leaving the base, Kennedy proceeded to Yokosuka City Hall for an office call with the Honorable Yuto Yoshida, Mayor of Yokosuka City.
“Today we had Caroline Kennedy visit,” said Lt. Michelle Williams of U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka. “She saw Sailors from all around the base, including some of our Japanese friends here today. It was great for all of us to take time out of our schedules today to meet with Ambassador Kennedy. We took a couple of photos that we can share with our parents who were around when President Kennedy was around. We just thank her for taking time out of her schedule; we really appreciate it.”