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    CATC Camp Fuji Staff NCOs visit Tokyo for PME

    CATC Camp Fuji Staff NCOs group photo at Akasaka Palace

    Photo By Song Jordan | CATC Camp Fuji Staff NCOs and Sergeant Major pose for a group photo at Akasaka Palace,...... read more read more



    Story by Song Jordan 

    Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji

    Staff noncommissioned officers assigned to CATC Camp Fuji left the installation for a professional military educational trip in Tokyo on May 18, 2023.
    Sgt. Maj. Restituto Paz, CATC Camp Fuji’s sergeant major, said taking time away from the camp is good sometimes.
    “Their time here is very short, one year will go by quick. I want them to enjoy their time here and view more than the training area while they are here in Japan,” he said.
    Staff Sgt. Lightner Miller, a career planner, said he was excited to learn that a trip to see where Japanese government leaders meet was even possible. He heard about the tour after a group of junior Marines participated in a similar trip earlier this year.
    “I think this is one of the few that we get to pair recreational, educational, learning with doing something that is fun, like going to Tokyo for the day. Usually, you don’t get all three of those things. Usually, it’s one or the other,” Miller said.
    For newly arrived Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Burgess, officer in charge of the ammunition supply point office, said he had a few reasons to sign-up for the trip.
    “Comradery. Sightseeing. Have a good day,” he said. Burgess has been assigned to CATC Camp Fuji since March.
    The first stop was Akasaka Palace, a state guest house of Japan. Japanese leaders have used it to welcome world leaders and host diplomatic activities, since the 1970s.
    In previous years it served as mansion for a shogun family. It also housed Japan’s crowned prince in 1909.
    Unfortunately, for security reasons, photos were only permitted to be taken outside of the palace.
    Gunnery Sgt. Angel Castillo, CATC Camp Fuji supply officer, said he was impressed with the various artwork adorning the walls and ceilings of the palace.
    One room that stood out for Castillo, who hails from Long Beach, California, was Asahi no Ma or Sunrise Hall. The wall panels feature a dark green velvet damask design on gold fabric.
    “It was a pretty cool design. It looked as though every single one looked like it was handmade, but at the same time, they looked exactly the same,” he said.
    Inside the palace, several rooms are adorned with gold painted columns and walls. Each room and has luxurious decor with a unique theme.
    Pictures of numerous events that occurred at the palace were on display throughout the building. Photos highlighted several world leaders visiting with Japanese prime ministers and the emperor and empress.
    After the palace, the Marines took time for lunch near Tokyo Station.
    The final stop was to Japan’s National Diet building. It holds Japan’s House of Councillors and House of Representatives.
    Photos were allowed inside the Diet. Many of the interior hallways and rooms appeared to be less ornate than Akasaka Palace. There are a few areas that are quite extravagant, but those areas appear to be designated for Japan’s emperor and his family, while visiting the Diet.
    Burgess, a Durham, North Carolina native, said he enjoyed the trip and was able to build rapport with the other tour attendees, as he had hoped.
    “Having some one-on-one with Sgt. Major and seeing him outside of his element and outside of camis, that was the first time for me,” he said.
    “That was cool to witness.”

    If you’d like assistance in arranging a PME trip, Rie Katsumata, a Morale Welfare and Recreation program assistant with CATC Camp Fuji’s Marine Corps Community Services, suggests sending her an email.



    Date Taken: 05.18.2023
    Date Posted: 05.22.2023 04:22
    Story ID: 445192
    Hometown: DURHAM, NC, US
    Hometown: LONG BEACH, CA, US

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