Service members from MCAS Iwakuni give back to local community

Service members from MCAS Iwakuni give back to local community

by Cpl. Alissa P. Schuning, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
U.S. Marine Corps

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Roughly 20 minutes by car from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, down an obscure road off of Route 188, lays Tsuzu Beach. Also known as Glass Beach, it offers visitors beautiful scenery, calm waters and the opportunity to collect seaglass from the shore, but service members from MCAS Iwakuni had a different reason for hitting the beach.

The Marine Aircraft Group 12 Chaplain’s Office took service members with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 to Tsuzu Beach for a cleanup, March 13, 2015.

Volunteers traveled up and down the seashell-covered beach, collecting trash and even some shells during their journey.

“This is the first time we have come to Glass Beach,” said Navy Lt. Matthew Heathman, deputy chaplain with MAG-12. “We go out to Japanese preschools and do Kintai Bridge cleanups once a month, but we wanted to do something a little different to find new ways to get the Marines out to see Japan.”

The station conducts hundreds of community relations events each year and they are an important part of keeping the relationship between the U.S. and Japan strong.

“We are lucky to be stationed in Japan and most of us will be here for at least two years, so this is our home,” said Lance Cpl. Jessica Winkowski, a ground support equipment mechanic with MALS-12. “I like to keep my home clean and want to show the locals what Marines are all about. We aren’t just about fighting wars, we also take the time to help the community and take care of the things around us.”

Approximately 21 volunteers spent more than an hour picking up litter on the beach, but it wasn’t all work and no play.

“It’s always more fun when you volunteer with Marines,” said Winkowski. “They may be my coworkers but we are more like a family and doing events like this helps us bond and build unit cohesion.”

Winkowski added that she enjoys volunteering because it makes her feel more like a Marine.

“Anyone can just go and get their job done, but when you take your time to give back to the community, you feel like you’re giving more than just the minimum requirement,” said Winkowski.

According to Heathman, the best part of doing community relations events is seeing how much the Marines enjoy it.

“They enjoy giving back and building relationships with the locals,” said Heathman. “Everybody loves it, everybody has a good time and there are smiles all around.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities aboard station, contact the following entitie

•Marine Memorial Chapel at 253-3371
•MAG-12 Chaplain’s Office at 253-3856
•Single Marine Program at 253-4656

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