News: Children enjoy beach with Schwab Marines, sailors
Story by Lance Cpl. Heather Johnson
OKINAWA, Japan - The 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted their 2nd Annual Beach Bash for children from the Nagomi Nursing Home for Children at Oura Wan beach on Camp Schwab Aug. 28.
The 66 volunteers attending the event were Marines and sailors from Schwab-based units that normally visit the nursing home, located near Henoko Village, during holidays like Halloween, Easter and Christmas. According to Fumio Iha, the liaison and community relations specialist for Schwab, these visits give the children something to look forward to.
"Our Marines and sailors come from all walks of life so to get the chance to do something like this with kids less fortunate than them was a good experience," said Col. Stephen Neary, commanding officer of 4th Marines and camp commander for Schwab.
"Many of [the Marines and sailors] have brothers and sisters at home that they have not seen in a while, so it’s a great opportunity for them to be able to interact with these kids and build the community relations between us and the Okinawans," he added.
"It went well and it was a lot of fun for me," said Staff Sgt. Jesus Rivera, a motor transportation chief with Motor Transportation Platoon, 4th Marines and a volunteer at the bash. "What I remember most was when we got there, all the little kids ran up and hugged us and we said “hey guys, how are you.”"
While the majority of volunteers came from Camp Schwab, there were also members of the local community, who come aboard the base weekly to learn English, who came to participate in the beach bash.
"It was a good turnout," said Iha. "We were a little concerned about the weather but we had a blue sky and lots of smiling faces."
Volunteers and children played volleyball, built sand castles and enjoyed barbeque together while some of the younger children took the hands of volunteers to venture out to the water during the event. "They looked like they felt really joyful to see us," said Rivera. "I think the feeling was mutual on both sides to be able to enjoy each other’s time and company."
"Throughout history Marines have interacted with kids in places such as Haiti and Iraq," said Neary. "There will always be a place in the world and in our hearts for Marines and kids."
"I think this is going to be the fondest memory [the children] will have of their summer vacation," said Iha.