News: Iitate Village elementary students visit Camp Foster
Story by Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson
OKINAWA, Japan - Elementary school students from Iitate Village in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, came to Camp Foster on a study trip hosted by the G-7, government and external affairs office, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, July 25.
The visit was part of the schools’ three-year project to provide the students opportunities to consider the importance of peace from a variety of angles, according to Aya Urasaki, a community relations specialist with G-7.
“This is the second year we have hosted a trip for the students,” said Dr. Robert D. Eldridge, the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-7.
The students were given a class by Eldridge on the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s history and structure and how Marines helped during Operation Tomodachi.
“The students of Iitate Village wanted to come visit the Marines to say thank you for their assistance during Operation Tomodachi,” said Urasaki. “These visits show the Japanese the importance of peace and how we are here to help.”
Operation Tomodachi was a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation to support recovery efforts after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami impacted Japan in March 2011. On April 22, 2011, the Japanese government asked residents to leave Iitate Village due to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which occurred after a tsunami hit the nuclear power plant. Residents of Iitate Village are still unable to return home.
“It’s just terrible how they had to leave their homes, but it was a great pleasure to have them here,” said Col. John C. Wright, chief of staff, MCIPAC. “I hope one day they will be able to return to their village.”
As the class stood up with its books in hand, it read one final goodbye to Eldridge, thanking him for the lesson he taught and the knowledge it gained. The students finished off their trip with a tour of Camp Foster and lunch at the food court.