Sasebo honors Japanese WWII vet at Navy Ball
SASEBO - Sailors from Commander Fleet Activities, Sasebo (CFAS) and host nation friends celebrated the 237th birthday of the U.S. Navy on Oct. 12 with a Navy Ball at the Harbor View Club. The Navy ball is an annual event that celebrates the great history and heritage, and more specifically , the day that Congress officially created the United States Navy on Oct. 13 1775.
Along with the American sailors, several members of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and Japan Ground Self Defense Force joined, in addition to Sasebo City friends including Mayor Norio Tomonaga and his wife.
The guest of honor was Mr. Shigeru Tominaga, a retired Japanese World War II veteran. While Tominaga did not speak, CFAS Commanding Officer Capt. Charles Rock recounted highlights of Tominaga’s life both in the military and beyond.
“He is a man that watched friends die at the hands of American bombs, yet after the war dedicated his life to the support of the American community here in Sasebo for over 66 years,” Rock told the attendees.
In 1955, Tominaga became EJ King High School’s Japanese language and culture teacher. In 1981, he retired from the school but continued to help and support the US Navy teaching English on base.
“In 1990 he retired for good, sort of,” Rock said. “For the last 12 years he has remained a close friend and a mentor to both the Japanese and American communities here in Sasebo. You see, the Greatest Generation doesn’t know how to stop contributing. They just keep going,” he continued, referring to broadcaster Tom Brokaw’s 1989 book “The Greatest Generation,” recounting American servicemen who fought in World War II and then rebuilt a country.
“It goes without saying that patience, determination and perseverance were among many amazing qualities of the Greatest Generation. Mr. Tominaga reminds us of this with one of his favorite words of wisdom which says, “’At any time and in any situation, one should do your best to make a circumstance the most meaningful.’”
“The U.S. Navy and JMSDF share a special bond that is reinforced by an extremely important and enduring alliance,” said Rock “We also recognize that one service can not provide defense alone, and are proud of our jointness and our unique and close partnership with Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces.”
According to tradition the oldest and youngest sailors at the ball were the first to cut the ceremonial cake. The title of oldest went to Vice Adm. Masanori Yoshida, Commandant for the JMSDF Sasebo District, while the youngest was Logistics Specialist Seaman Melvin L. Randall.
“It was a great opportunity to be part of ceremony,” said Randall. “I feel honored that I could play even a small part.”
Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles F. Rhodes struck one bell signifying not only the conclusion of the ceremony, but also the start of a new watch and the Navy's continued success.
After the completion of the opening ceremony the guest helped themselves to the buffets that were placed around the Harbor View Club and given different themes according the foreign nations and ports of call they were named after.