MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day Air Show earns award
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Marine Corps Community Services Iwakuni were awarded the Dick Schram Memorial Community Relations Award at the Chairman’s Banquet at the International Council of Air Shows Convention in Las Vegas, Dec. 8, 2016.
The Dick Schram Memorial Community Relations Award, the highest recognition given to military bases by the International Council of Air Shows, is about exhibiting traditional community relations as it considers the needs of its civilian neighbors, but it sets new standards of excellence in this area by including its community in the planning, executions and rewards of the event.
“MCAS Iwakuni is the first international air show to ever receive this award,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert E. Carlson, air operations officer and Friendship Day 2016 director. “The [award] personifies the excellent relationship between MCAS Iwakuni and its neighbors, with neighbors extending well beyond Yamaguchi prefecture and into Tokyo and Kyushu.”
MCAS Iwakuni has held the annual Friendship Day Air Show since 1973, but 2015 was the first-ever bilaterally sponsored show with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet Air Wing 31.
The one-day event is the U.S. Marine Corps’ largest annual community relations event in Japan bringing in approximately 165,000 guests in 2015 and 175,000 guests in 2016.
According to Carlson, a few things that stood out about the Iwakuni air show were the concept of giving back to the community, the exceptional coordination between Fleet Air Wing-31 and MCAS Iwakuni, excellent and diverse performers, teamwork and messaging.
“The award was earned due to the effort of over 1,000 Marines, civilians and master labor contractors who made Friendship Day 2016 a success in light of much larger obstacles,” said Carlson. “Ultimately, innovation and collaboration won the award.”
Planning and execution of the 2016 air show was uniquely impacted by nearby earthquakes within two weeks of the event, followed by numerous aftershocks. While Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force pulled most of their displays out to support the earthquake relief effort, they diligently searched for a way to simultaneously support the event and relief efforts.
“Participation by the Japanese Girl Scouts and Japanese Red Cross saved the 2016 event,” said Carlson. “Their participation changed the perception of the event because they provided direct opportunity to donate to the Kumamoto earthquake relief efforts. These organizations collected 702,304 Yen to directly support relief efforts that would not have been generated otherwise.”
Without the mutual trust and friendship between the U.S. and Japan, the 2016 air show would have been drastically less successful. Between the media, local Japanese government and MCAS Iwakuni staff, pulling off Friendship Day 2016 demonstrated the remarkable bond with the host nation.
“The Dick Schram Memorial Community Relations Award is well recognized in the U.S. Air Show community,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Nathan Hoff, assistant operations officer. “Here on base, receiving recognition for the hard work and the great community relationship that has been built overtime will help remind us of the importance of such an event. I expect that it will help refocus those who have supported previous Friendship Days and energize newcomers that have not had the opportunity to support. I also anticipate that … support for the event will also grow with the positive recognition of the event. With this support will come more opportunity to showcase the military capability of both the U.S. forces and JSDF.”