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    Photo By Honey Nixon | Leadership from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 374th Airlift Wing, and NIPPO Corp....... read more read more

    YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN – As the Shinto priest’s prayers reverberate against the walls of a make-shift tent, leadership from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 374th Airlift Wing, and NIPPO Corp. all bow deeply as the “Jichinsai” or "land-appeasing ceremony" begins during a groundbreaking, June 4.

    This group is taking part in an ancient Japanese ceremony held before the commencement of the AFSOC CV-22 Osprey Facility Simulator project - a critical build for the U.S. Japan Alliance and the region. The priests will pray for the prosperity of the owner and occupants of the building once the project comes to fruition. A ritual completely unique to Japan.

    “Nowhere else in the world but our wonderful host country of Japan – will we see this rite performed,” smiles Col. Thomas J. Verell, Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Japan Engineer District’s commander, during his remarks following the ceremony. “The "Hoe-in Ceremony” you observed asked the god who protects land for a blessing to use that land for building as well as praying for the safety of the construction that will take place.”

    Jichinsai consists of three rituals: Karisome no Gi, Ugachizome no Gi, and Sukiire no Gi. These rituals include a series of symbolic acts of cutting grass with a sickle, breaking the ground with a hoe, and digging into the ground with a spade to prepare the site for the upcoming construction. These rituals are performed by representatives from the designer, the owner, and the contractor in a show of joint effort. The symbolism of these traditions are not lost on Verell.

    “At the Japan Engineer District, we also strive for safety on our sites and consider it a top priority,” he concluded. “Each project we pursue, we make a promise to see these prayers become a reality,” he added.
    It’s clear this moment is special to Verell, as this will be one of his last groundbreakings before leaving command in late July.

    “For me, this is a bittersweet occasion as it marks one of the last groundbreaking ceremonies I will attend as the Japan Engineer District Commander,” Verell shares. “...I know long after I leave command, the Japan Engineer District will only continue to work to make construction easier and more cost effective while maintaining quality for our stakeholders.”

    The commander is not alone in his sentiments as a member of the AFSOC Project Delivery Team will also be leaving special ceremonies like these behind.

    “This was extra special to me as this will be the last groundbreaking ceremony I attend, since I will be departing Japan,” said Alicia Bustamante, a JED program manager for the AFSOC. “Knowing that this project has kicked off is just another success for the Japan District and Yokota Air Base as it will bring a mission-critical training environment for the entire region. The AFSOC team is incredible and I am honored to have been a part of it.”

    Also joining the groundbreaking via livestream is Rebecca Knolle, a project manager with design partner, Woolpert. Knolle made sure she didn’t miss the event - even with the 13-hour time difference in her state of Ohio.

    “Woolpert has been involved with this bed down effort since its inception in 2014, through the production of area development plans and facility scoping documents,” said Knolle. “We will continue to support the project through construction until the Osprey Simulator facility is fully operational. We’re honored to support the great work of the USACE JED.”

    The 9,100-square-foot structure - slated for opening in Sept. 2023 - will support a full-motion flight simulator, bringing critical capabilities to the 374th Airlift Wing.

    “The movement of the AFSOC simulator into its permanent facility here on the AFSOC campus is an important step in the operational viability of the CV-22 at Yokota, and an important safety feature for CV-22 operations in the Pacific,” said Col. Andrew Campbell, the 374th Airlift Wing commander.

    “When this project is complete, this simulator facility will be the only CV-22 simulator in the region,” added Verell. “At a future ribbon cutting - visitors will walk through the simulator where they will see newly-minted classrooms, training rooms and secure storage, as well as utilities and communications necessary to support the special operations mission of the 374th Airlift Wing.”

    Verell never forgets the broad capability and impact projects like this simulator bring to the Indo-Pacific region.

    “What may not be apparent - is the bigger mission this construction will support as every corner of this simulator space will bolster our coveted U.S. - Japan alliance,” he continued. This new capability is absolutely critical to the defense of Japan and reflects our continued commitment to our host nation.”

    Japan Engineer District is headquartered at Camp Zama and operates field offices throughout Japan. The District executes the Japan Host Nation Funded Construction and U.S. MILCON programs as the Department of Defense design and construction agent. The District supports U.S. Forces and other agencies with quality, professional and comprehensive planning, engineering, construction, environmental and other value-added services.



    Date Taken: 06.14.2021
    Date Posted: 06.13.2021 21:17
    Story ID: 398812
    Location: JP

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