News: Navy Misawa Snow Team completes 'Fighting Bee' snow sculpture
SAPPORO, Japan – Seven sailors belonging to U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa and its tenant commands have completed construction on a snow sculpture, Feb. 3, 2014, which will be on display at the 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival.
The sailors are members of the 2014 Navy Misawa Snow Team, which traveled from mainland Japan to Hokkaido Island, so they could build the sculpture for the city’s annual festival. This year marks the 31st year that NAF Misawa has sent a team to Sapporo to represent the command and the U.S. Navy.
The team is comprised of Navy Misawa sailors - handpicked by their respective commands – who continually demonstrate a strong work ethic, while embodying the Navy core values. They must also have solid communication skills, and be an outgoing and friendly person.
During the five days it took to create the sculpture, Chief Builder Billy Harger, 2014 Navy Misawa Snow Team leader, said the team certainly exhibited those ideals.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more professional and dedicated group of Sailors,” said the native of Pearl City, Hawaii. “None of the team members are originally from warm-weather areas of the United States, so they didn’t grow up with a lot of experience in the snow - and absolutely none of them had any experience sculpting it.”
But experience notwithstanding, the team embraced the challenge of working outside their collective comfort zones, and took the challenge head on.
Prior to departing Misawa, the team decided to sculpt a three-dimensional version of the U.S. Navy Seabee’s famous “Fighting Bee” emblem.
“The team always creates a Navy-inspired sculpture for the festival, but we wanted to highlight an aspect of the Navy that the festival spectators may not know much about,” said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class Chris Dorrough, who originally hails from Gadsden, Ala. “Since the Navy Seabees are celebrating their 72nd birthday, March 5, it seemed like we could build a pretty cool design, while simultaneously giving a shout out to the Seabee community.”
So upon arriving in Sapporo, the team proceeded to sculpt a six-foot-by-six-foot block of compacted snow that the festival organizers placed in the city’s Odori Park. Using axes, chisels, and even at times, a chainsaw, the team eventually whittled down the block into a roundish shape, that somewhat resembled a bee.
“After the first day, I think if you squinted, turned your head sideways, and were told it was a bee, you might have figured out what we were making,” joked Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Alexianna Morton, originally from Antioch, Calif. “But by the third day, people were walking up to us while we were working and saying “hachi,” which is Japanese for ‘bee.’ At that point, we knew we were headed in the right direction.”
Harger said the last two days of sculpting were dedicated to detail work, which helped shape their frosty bee into a fighting bee.”
“The team really went above and beyond with some of the detailing,” said Harger. “Many times I had a basic idea of what I wanted, and the team members would constantly come up with great ideas on how we could make the design stand out. We incorporated a lot of those ideas and I think, ultimately, it helped the sculpture really pop.”
Throughout the build, the team had to persevere through erratic weather patterns that saw temperatures rise toward 40 degrees Fahrenheit, only to be replaced a few hours later by howling winds, horizontal-blowing snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. All of this proved challenging, but nothing they couldn’t overcome.
“If the temperatures got too high, then the sculpture’s details would begin to melt away, but on the flip side of that, when it got really cold and windy, our hands and feet would start to become numb, and the snow and wind made it hard to see,” said Dorrough. “But we knew coming into this that standing outside for sometimes up to eight hours a day would be challenging. We dressed warm and came ready to work. Each Sailor on this team brought something special to the team, and together, we were able to accomplish the goal we set out with. We are now the proud owners of a giant six-foot snow bee.”
While in Sapporo, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) from Camp Sapporo hosted the team and allowed them to lodge in their barracks. The Navy Misawa Snow Team has an ongoing relationship with the Sapporo JGSDF members, and has built a close bond over the years.
“Prior to arriving here we’d heard about the great relationship that Navy Misawa shares with Camp Sapporo, but I can’t tell you how wonderful they have been for us during our stay,” said Morton. “They often stop by the site, and bring us food and hot coffee. They are so wonderful and thoughtful, I’m really proud to have an opportunity to get to know them.”
With the Fighting Bee complete, the snow team will now maintain it, and spend time in front of the sculpture interacting with the more than two million expected spectators at this year’s festival.
“I think the team is really proud of their work, and they are looking forward to showing it off to the public,” said Harger. “Building the sculpture was fun, but having the opportunity to interact and joke around with the festivalgoers is going to be the highlight of our time in Sapporo.”
To follow the progress of the 2014 Navy Misawa Snow Team, stay tuned to the Naval Air Facility Misawa Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nafmisawa.
Date Posted:02.03.2014 12:22
Location:SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO, JP
Hometown:ANTIOCH, CA, US
Hometown:GADSDEN, AL, US
Hometown:NEDERLAND, TX, US
Hometown:PEARL CITY, HI, US
Hometown:PENSACOLA, FL, US
Hometown:STROUD, OK, US
Hometown:TEHACHAPI, CA, US