Sailors’ Small Acts Impacts Community
For Sailors living at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, the walk from Sagamino train station to NAF Atsugi’s main gate is a familiar trek.
With the number of bars, restaurants and convenience stores between the two destinations it is probably no surprise regarding the amount trash littered along the way.
Those who come to Japan quickly learn that there are not many public trashcans to be found but sadly this doesn’t seem to stop some people from leaving their trash behind.
The idea of trashing the area around their temporary home, especially in a foreign land, did not sit well with several Sailors from NAF Atsugi.
“Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Brandon Phillips grabbed some people and started picking up trash that others had left behind,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Steven Trimble.
The effort Phillips and the others Sailors made quickly turned into Operation Clean, a weekly gathering to pick up trash outside the main gate.
While Phillips is at sea, his coleader Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Michael Lewis continues the commitment by keeping the project going.
Lewis said that when he first arrived to NAF Atsugi, he was appalled by the amount of trash left by people and he didn’t want the local community to get the wrong impression of Americans.
Sailors with Operation Cleanup take time every Sunday morning to meet outside of the main gate and pick up trash along the walkways leading to the station.
“I wanted to do volunteer work with a group of people who had the right intentions in their volunteering,” said Trimble. “You don’t have to deal with the petty politics of a big organization or the people who are looking for evaluation ‘bullet points’.”
To Lewis and Trimble picking up the trash is no big deal, they see it as a responsibility that everyone should know to do on their own but ensure that it is taken care of.
“If you take care of the basics, the rest is easy,” said Lewis. NAF Atsugi’s Host Nation Relations Community Relations Officer Sumie Maruyama said the Sailors involvement is very important and enforces a positive relationship between the base and the local community.
NAF Atsugi Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Wieman agreed with Maruyama’s sentiments and together recognized the Sailors of Operation Cleanup for their hard work, dedication and for being proper Ambassadors while aboard NAF Atsugi.
Maruyama said that she is very proud of the Sailors and that they each demonstrate the true spirit of being a volunteer.
“The work itself is satisfying,” said Trimble. “You see tangible benefits from Operation Cleanup; the streets are cleaner and you see that it actually helps the community. Volunteering is just a way of showing that you care about the community that you are serving.”