GINOWAN CITY, OKINAWA, Japan – Surrounded by clear skies and warm tropical sunshine, volunteers took to the sand and surf to lend a hand in the beautification of a local beach.
Community members and Marines joined together April 5 during the third annual Ginowan City Tropical Beach Cleanup to improve the local area and strengthen the relationship between the two groups.
The event was well timed with the opening of Tropical Beach, according to Seisho Morine, the management director for Hagoromo Park.
“Tropical Beach is slated to open soon,” said Morine. “Cleaning the beach before then is very helpful. A lot of the trash needs to be cleaned up by hand, so a lot of volunteers are needed. I truly think that the service members contribute a lot to the community.”
The volunteers searched the seawall and shoreline, picking up trash and debris along the way.
“Once our shop heard about this opportunity, everyone raised their hand to volunteer,” said Lance Cpl. Allen S. Spain, a helicopter and tiltrotor dynamic components mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We were all excited because we knew it was going to be a chance to interact with the local community members a lot more.”
The volunteers worked to clean the beach and strengthen the camaraderie between the community and service members.
“The members of the community around here are really nice,” said Spain. “They will just come up to you and strike up a conversation. Between the help we gave, the new friends we made, and spending a day at the beach – it was a win-win for everybody.”
The beach is an inviting location for Marines, the community and tourists to frequent during the warm summer months.
“Tropical Beach is used by local (residents), tourists, and Marines stationed here,” said Sgt. Maj. Delvin Smythe, the sergeant major for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “It’s an absolutely beautiful beach. It gives us a great place to come and take our families and enjoy Okinawa.”
After a few short hours, the beach cleanup ended and the volunteers enjoyed a friendly barbecue and softball game.
“The softball game gives us a chance to communicate through (sports),” said Smythe.
Ginowan officials and service members alike look forward to next year’s beach cleanup and hope it will be just as successful and enjoyable as this one, according to Lance Cpl. Marcus Cannon, a helicopter and tiltrotor dynamic components mechanic with MALS-36, MAG-36, 1st MAW, III MEF.
“I hope that we get to volunteer some more,” said Cannon. “It’s always good to get out here and help the people who are hosting us in their country.”