U.S. service members with Marine Aircraft Group 12 volunteer during a lantern festival in Iwakuni City, Japan, March 3, 2019. The service members volunteered in the event that was held by the Blue Art Project, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to people with developmental disorders. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Jones)
U.S. service members with Marine Aircraft Group 12 volunteer during a lantern festival in Iwakuni City, Japan, March 3, 2019. The service members volunteered in the event that was held by the Blue Art Project, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to people with developmental disorders. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Jones)

US service members volunteer in lantern festival

by Cpl. Andrew Jones
U.S. Marine Corps

IWAKUNI CITY, Japan -- U.S. service members with Marine Aircraft Group 12 volunteered during a lantern festival at the Go! Go! Track and Field at the Atago Sports Complex in Iwakuni City, February 3, 2019. 

The event was hosted by the Blue Art Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for people with developmental disabilities. 

The service members helped to set up cones, sky lanterns, move props and materials for performers and clean up the area after the event was concluded. 

In addition to the volunteers, many families and other service members from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni participated in the event alongside Japanese locals. 

“We don't always speak the same language, but I did get the impression that they were happy to interact with us and they were happy to see us,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sheridan Lewis, a basic intelligence Marine with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171. “There's 
a language barrier but friendship is an international language.” 

Participants in the event wrote down hopes and wishes on a piece of paper and the service members, along with other volunteers, helped to attach the wishes to the lanterns. Once the sun went down, the lights were turned off and the lanterns, which were attached to strings, were let up into the night sky above the field. The lanterns were lit by blue LED lights. 

Emi Kawaguchi, an event planner with the Blue Art Project, stated that having the service members was beneficial to the promptness of the event and that she enjoyed having them.

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