MCAS Iwakuni hosts Friendship Day 2014
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, opened its gates May 5, 2014, for Friendship Day, an event that allows visitors a chance to see the military installation and interact with American service members.
Friendship Day has been one of the greatest opportunities for Japanese, near and far, to come aboard MCAS Iwakuni.
Despite the weather forecast calling for rain, guests lined up at the gates, hoping to be one of the first to gain entry to the event.
With the cancellation of the event last year, due to budgetary constraints, Friendship Day returned this year, with one major change: No airshow.
Even without the appeal of an airshow, Friendship Day strengthened cultural ties between service members in Japan and their hosts.
“Thank you very much for coming out to Friendship Day,” said Col. Robert Boucher, commanding officer, MCAS Iwakuni. “It has been a great turnout today, and we are so thankful to bring Friendship Day back. It takes a lot of people to put on an event this large, and I want to take time to thank the people in the community who helped put this on. A special thanks to the Iwakuni Police Department who have such a big job today in making this a smooth operation, and I want to extend my deepest appreciation to Fleet Air Wing 31, who are our partners on this day and great supporters of us.”
Boucher said Friendship Day is a great chance for Japanese visitors to check out the air station and get to experience a little bit of American culture.
“Friendship Day is about bringing the Iwakuni community and the Station community together,” said Boucher. “So along with having a good time today, I hope that this is an educational opportunity for everyone, and that we get to know each other a little bit better.”
More than 50,000 guests attended the event and visited attractions, from military vehicle static displays to the Historic Zero Hangar, a battle-scarred Japanese Imperial Navy fighter hangar near the main entrance of the air station.
Visitors swarmed around attractions throughout the day, taking photos of the spectacles, along with any uniformed service member standing nearby. For participants who wanted more than just sights, food vendors offered both American and Japanese cuisine ranging from hotdogs and hamburgers to yakisoba and okonomiyaki: A popular pan-fried dish.
Multiple units from MCAS Iwakuni participated in Friendship Day to include: Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 and multiple Marine Aircraft Group 12 Unit Deployment Program squadrons.
In addition to the Iwakuni units, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, both from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan, participated in Friendship with static displays of their KC-130 Super Hercules and MV-22B Osprey.
MCAS Iwakuni hosted an event similar to Friendship Day prior to 1973, but the event did not receive its current name until the aforementioned year.