Happy Holidays from MCAS Iwakuni

Santa waves goodbye to the children of Josho Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni City, Japan, December 10, 2019. This event is among multiple events aboard MCAS Iwakuni during the holidays that promotes camaraderie and holiday cheer for military members and their families while being stationed overseas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited)
Santa waves goodbye to the children of Josho Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni City, Japan, December 10, 2019. This event is among multiple events aboard MCAS Iwakuni during the holidays that promotes camaraderie and holiday cheer for military members and their families while being stationed overseas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited)

Happy Holidays from MCAS Iwakuni

by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan (December 19, 2019) --- Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni residents had the chance to participate in many holiday events aboard the air station hosted by the air station chapel and Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS). These events were held to foster comradery and holiday cheer in military members and their families while being stationed overseas and to spread holiday cheer to the local Japanese community.

Air station personnel volunteered for multiple opportunities to give back this holiday season and accompanied Santa Claus and his elves in visits to local schools and nursing homes, and inviting local children onto the air station for Christmas parties. Holiday events culminated with a tree-lighting ceremony for all air station residents and personnel to see.

Visits to local schools and nursing homes saw Santa and his Marine Corps-affiliated elves bringing candy, cookies and hot chocolate to local children and the elderly, showing that giving back is the true meaning of the holiday.

"All volunteers who came to community relations events gave kids and elderly residents an American Christmas atmosphere, singing many Christmas songs," said Shiori Minato, administrative specialist at MCAS Iwakuni Chapel. "It made them smile and happier in this holiday season. It was small but very special to them, I believe.”

The annual tree lighting ceremony happens every year at MCAS Iwakuni, bringing the holiday cheer home to the air station. Residents and their guests gathered at Cherry Blossom Triangle on base where they saw children sing Christmas carols, play music and dance to ring in the holiday season. Free hot chocolate was offered courtesy of MCCS, food vendors were available and donations were accepted by local Scout troops during the tree-lighting, which culminated in holiday lights being turned on in the square to the delight of all who were present.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Ross, MCAS Iwakuni chaplain, said of the event, “Having all of the residents of MCAS Iwakuni and even our neighbors of Iwakuni City come out to this holiday event to celebrate while we are overseas and away from our families, creates a new family and a further reason to be thankful for our community here in Iwakuni.”

Being away from home during the holidays can be tough on service members, especially the ones who are bachelor Marines and sailors who don’t have their families with them, which is why it is important for them to build connections with their fellow air station residents and get involved with the on-base and off-base communities.

“Military members’ mental health is very important,” says Ross. “So, going out and volunteering, getting dressed up as Santa, his elves, and his reindeer makes the small children we visit happy, and in the process, boosts the morale (of the service member who participates).”

This holiday season, military members have the unique and fleeting opportunity to celebrate Christmas and New Years in a different country. The air station has many opportunities both on and off base to ring in the holidays with the local community. To see about volunteering this holiday season, call special events at 0827-79-3727.

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