Misawa Navy Team Traveling to Sapporo for Snow Festival

*Photo from last year's festival. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Bacon/Released
*Photo from last year's festival. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Bacon/Released

Misawa Navy Team Traveling to Sapporo for Snow Festival

Naval Air Facility Misawa

MISAWA, Japan -- Eleven Sailors assigned to U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa and its tenant commands will arrive in Sapporo, Japan, on Jan. 28 to begin work on a Navy-themed snow statue for the 71st annual Sapporo Snow Festival, marking the Navy's 37th year of participation.

More than two million visitors attend the Sapporo Snow Festival annually to marvel at the large snow statues built by teams from all over Japan and dozens of countries.

This year, the Sailors will sculpt a bust of a pilot in a cockpit with aircraft flying in the background and Navy pilot wings in the foreground. Previous works have included many famous U.S. Navy icons and symbols such as a replica of the Lone Sailor statue, the Fighting Bees Seabees logo, and the ship USS Constitution.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for some of our best Sailors to represent the Navy," said Commanding Officer, Naval Air Facility Misawa, Capt. Brian K. Pummill. "Our Misawa Navy Snow Team is looking forward to participating in this great event and interacting with our host nation partners."

The Sailors selected for the team were chosen because of their superior work performance and dedication to the U.S. Navy both on and off-duty. Many were also selected for awards such as "Sailor of the Year" at their respective commands.

This year's Navy Snow team includes Snow Team lead Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joseph Buliavac, Chief Builder Kevin Myers, Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate Justin White, Builder 1st Class Jenny Cunningham, Builder 1st Class Anthonyl Cabrera, Mineman 2nd Class Pete Calvert, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Elijah Karakey, Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Miller, Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Jade Hillard, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jan David Mercado and Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Kailyn Saunders.

While in Sapporo, this year's Navy team will be hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members at Camp Sapporo, as in years past.

"Being a part of the 2020 Sapporo Snow Festival team means a lot to me
because I get to be a part of something bigger than myself," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Kailyn Saunders, assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa. "I've always wanted to do this and visit Sapporo since I've been in Japan plus I look forward to getting the chance to interact more with Japanese nationals."

The team is scheduled to complete the snow sculpture by Feb. 3, spending the remainder of their time in Sapporo participating in community relations projects and meeting and interacting with the visitors at Snow Festival this year.

There are many snow sculpting teams from around the world that participate in the festival every year. There will also be a professional snow sculpting competition held during the festival.

JGSDF and the city of Sapporo create some of the largest sculptures in the world, measuring more than 40 feet high and 80 feet wide.

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