CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan --
A decades old tradition brought Henoko Young Men’s Association and the U.S. Marines together on Camp Schwab Jan. 25 for softball and barbecue.
“A community relations specialist for 3rd Marine Division contacted us asking if we wanted to play softball with the Marines,” said Tomohiro Nishikawa, a member of the Henoko Young Men’s Association. “It is a good way to interact with the Marines, so it was very important that we show up to play softball.”
The Young Men’s Association played the Marines in a nine-inning game.
“It is a fun time to come out and meet new people,” said Sgt. Nathan A. Bretz, a machine gunner with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. “It was great to have some competition against someone I don’t usually get to play against.”
Although the event was for the young men, there were some not-so-young men interested in playing softball with Marines.
“I heard that the Young Men’s Association was having a softball game with Marines and I came out to show my support,” said Akira Chibana, a former member of the association. “When I was part of the Young Men’s Association, we would have sports days with the Marines where we would go bowling and have relay races but I never got the chance to play softball. This is my first time coming to one of these games and it has been a great experience.”
The game strengthened the relationship between the Marines and the association, according to Chibana, from Henoko, Okinawa.
“I’m very happy to be out here and I appreciate the Marines coming out here and having such a great time with the Young Men’s Association,” said Chibana.
Following the softball game, with the Young Men’s Association ultimately being the victors, the two groups gathered for a cookout.
“Sharing smiles and eating together with the Marines was the most enjoyable part of this day, in my opinion,” said Nishikawa, from Henoko. “Being that these softball games are a tradition, I’m looking forward to doing this again in the future.”