OKINAWA, Japan - More than 30 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 participated in a friendship exchange at Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa’s White Beach Naval Facility, Sat., Aug. 24.
NMCB 3 volunteers joined roughly 60 other participants from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, their families and sailors from Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa’s Junior Enlisted Association to help clean up trash and bury seaweed along roughly three miles of the White Beach coastline.
The opportunity provided NMCB 3 with the chance to bond and learn about the Japanese culture after officially assuming command of CFAO’s Camp Shields and all naval construction force operations in the Pacific region, Aug. 23.
“Being in Okinawa is a privilege,” said NMCB 3 First Class Association President Engineering Aide 1st Class Willie Blanding. “It’s an excellent host nation with an interesting culture. I’m excited to learn more about the Japanese and how we can continue being great neighbors and friends.”
Following the beach cleanup, volunteers enjoyed a barbeque and got to know one another. Many Seabees took the opportunity to learn new Japanese words and sayings to help communicate, while others enjoyed conversations understood as critical lessons taught by JMSDF members and their families.
According to volunteer Equipment Operator 3rd Class Jess Wallace, those conversations helped him adjust his thinking to daily courtesies shown to his Japanese friends.
“With most Americans, the more we get to know each other, the more relaxed we are with the way we act – we tend to cut loose more and tone down the formalities,” said Wallace. “With the Japanese I learned, they are courteous of each other at all times, especially their close friends and family members. That’s something we need to make sure we understand and apply.”
One of the first battalions commissioned during World War II, NMCB 3’s legacy stands strong in its ability to build and fight anywhere in the world as either a full battalion or as a group of autonomous detachments, simultaneously completing critical engineering and construction missions.
For this deployment, NMCB 3 has split into nine details to perform critical construction projects in remote island areas such as Timor-Leste, Tonga, Cambodia and the Philippines. The teams will also conduct operations in Atsugi, Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan, Chinhae, Republic of Korea and China Lake, Calif.
The naval construction force is a vital component of the U.S. maritime Sstrategy. They provide deployable battalions capable of providing disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance and combat operations support. NMCB 3 provides combatant commanders and Navy component commanders with combat-ready warfighters capable of general engineering, construction and limited combat engineering across the full range of military operations.