By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (July 13, 2016) – Yokosuka U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) volunteers are joining forces to support and prepare for the 40th annual Yokosuka Friendship Day on Aug. 6, 2016. Friendship Day is Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s largest open-base function boasting delicious food, live performances and family entertainment.
The SRF-JRMC booth will be selling hot dogs, steaks and command merchandise to support the local community. Members of the Chief Petty Officers Association, the Blue Collar Association, Master Labor Contract Japanese employees and U.S. Civil Service employees will be volunteering their time at the booth.
“Since this is an annual base-wide event, I heard we are to expect 60,000 visitors [based on last year’s turnout],” said Yeoman 1st Class Cheryllyn Santos, one of the command’s volunteer coordinators. “That’s a lot of people, and we hope a portion of them will visit SRF-JRMC’s booth. We need volunteers for preparation day which includes set-up, grilling, selling and breaking down of equipment and, upon our return to work on Monday, clean-up and stowage.”
SRF-JRMC Recreational Committee spearheads the command’s volunteer team for this event. Along with Santos, another committee member, Chief Yeoman Rogelio Medina, is recruiting volunteers, arranging food service training and ensuring food and equipment supplies. Japanese Training Technician Hirokazu Sato is coordinating the Japanese employees’ participation. The team began work in May to ensure the booth, merchandise, cooking equipment, food supplies, ordering hot dogs and steaks and volunteers were ready for the event day.
“I joined the SRF-JRMC family in January 2016, and this being my first time here in Japan, I am so excited and ready to mingle with Japanese people!” Medina said. “Our command is just thrilled to have everyone come here. It is such an awesome opportunity, once a year, to be able to display to everyone throughout the nation just what we do here inside the base.”
According to FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office Director Sean Kelly, the day falls upon the annual Yokosuka Kaikoku (Country Opening) Festival which consists of a fireworks display. It is expected that an exceptionally large number of people will come and visit the base and its vicinity. On the same day, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Yokosuka District will also host their Summer Festival at its headquarters and attract many people to Yokosuka.
“Since 2003, Kaikoku Festival has commemorated the 150th anniversary of U.S. Commodore Mathew Perry’s arrival at Uraga [of Yokosuka] in 1853,” Kelly said. “After Commodore’s visit to Japan, a diplomatic and friendly relationship between the United States and Japan was established. Around this time of year, many events are arranged and staged in several venues to commemorate this historic moment, and many tourists enjoy Yokosuka.”
Alongside Yokosuka’s Kaikoku Festival, FLEACT’s Friendship Day is one of the few occasions for Japanese citizens to experience what a U.S. military base is like.
“On Aug. 6, 2016, everyone is allowed through the gates to experience Friendship Day and celebrate the bond between Japan and America,” Medina said.
Friendship Day is also a time to nurture the ties and relationships in the SRF-JRMC workforce, which employs more than 1,800 Japanese personnel and more than 400 U.S. military and civilian employees.
“SRF-JRMC has so many employees who I do not see on a daily basis,” Santos said. “Volunteering will allow me to meet other people from different shops [and codes].
“I’m looking forward to Friendship Day; it will be a great experience for both Americans and Japanese people. The friendship built will be a testament that Americans have big hearts and are friendly people. I look forward to the crowd and meeting those who come by our booth. We want to satisfy our customers and build camaraderie in hopes to see them again next year.”
Yokosuka Open-Base Friendship Day is scheduled on Saturday, August 6, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, please call 243-1215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.