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Local Osprey Fan Club tours Futenma facilities

22 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. John Gargano

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan - From volunteering to beautify the surrounding areas of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, to being outspoken fans on social media, one group was given a tour due to its great interest and overall appreciation for service members on Okinawa.

Members of the Osprey Fan Club toured facilities and viewed aircraft at MCAS Futenma July 10 to enhance their understanding of the station’s mission and strengthen their relationship with Marines.

The club, established in 2012, was originally created from a social media fan page in support of the MV-22B Osprey. The group later organized as an active club that works with the Marine Corps to beautify community areas near Marine installations.

“The goal of the club is to strengthen the relations between the Marine Corps and the people on Okinawa,” said Mikako Miyagi, the president of the fan club. “We would like to reach out to the Marines, and participation in the club is a great way to do that.”

Operation Tomodachi, the official name of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort that III Marine Expeditionary Force provided following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, helped create the fan base for the club’s inception because it showed another side of the Marine Corps to communities on Okinawa, according to Miyagi.

“We know a lot of Marines went to the affected areas to lend a helping hand to the Japanese people, and we feel very grateful for them helping us,” said Miyagi. “We would like to show them our respect and appreciation and to deepen our good relations with the Marines.” 

The event included an Osprey static display and a tour of the air traffic control tower, radar room, and aircraft rescue and firefighting unit.

The purpose of the tour was to give the community members a chance to learn about the Osprey’s capabilities, and how the aircraft helps Marines with humanitarian efforts and regional security, according to 1st Lt. Joseph S. High, an assistant air traffic control facility officer with III MEF. 

“This event was a great chance for the Marine Corps to increase transparency with Japan,” said High. “Both countries have a long-standing history of cooperation and diplomacy, and this was a great way for us to show the people of Ginowan City and Okinawa exactly what we do here and how we can help each other.”

The visit was a very insightful experience and gave the club members a greater appreciation for how the Marine Corps operates on Okinawa, according to Tsuyoshi Toyoda, a club member.

“It was my first time seeing the control tower and the Osprey aircraft,” said Toyoda. “Being able to see and experience this type of up-close observation was very exciting for me and gave me great insight into how the base works and operates.”

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