Chapel Employee retires after dedicating 40 years to the Marine Corps

Noriko Yamada, center, an administrative specialist with the station chapel, stands among her co-workers and friends during her retirement ceremony held aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Feb. 19, 2021. Yamada retired after working for more than 40 years as an administrative specialist. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited)
Noriko Yamada, center, an administrative specialist with the station chapel, stands among her co-workers and friends during her retirement ceremony held aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Feb. 19, 2021. Yamada retired after working for more than 40 years as an administrative specialist. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited)

Chapel Employee retires after dedicating 40 years to the Marine Corps

by Lance Cpl. Trista Whited
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Noriko Yamada, an administrative specialist with the station chapel, retired aboard Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, Feb. 19, 2021. Yamada dedicated more than 40 years of her life to strengthen the bond between MCAS Iwakuni and the local community of Iwakuni City, Japan.

Yamada first started working aboard the air station in October of 1980. Working in several departments within the base, such as the Station Adjutant, Family Services, Far East Network (which is now known as American Forces Network or AFN), the Public Affairs Office, and then finally settling at the chapel as an administrative specialist in 1999.

She went on to create a volunteer program that has strengthened the bond between the base community and the local Iwakuni City community, guaranteeing a friendship that will continue for years to come. She organized and hosted events with local nursing homes, preschools, and orphanages and coordinated festivals for MCAS Iwakuni Marines and Sailors to volunteer to sing, dance, and play games with locals in Iwakuni City who wouldn’t normally get to spend time with military service members and their families.

“The amazing community we have here in MCAS Iwakuni is largely due to everything she has done in her time here. I estimate that she has organized over 1,000 volunteer events with 15-40 Marines and Sailors in each event visiting preschools, orphanages, and nursing homes. The reason we have such a strong relationship with the local community is because of the lasting impression her and her events have left,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jon Neil, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Chaplain, “Some of the children that she has seen on the preschool events are more than likely in their thirties now. Their kids are probably in that same preschool. Noriko’s kindness has effected generations of Iwakuni locals and MCAS Iwakuni residents.”

Yamada’s favorite part of her job was watching the Marines, sailors, and preschoolers interact on the preschool volunteer trips. “The children are so fun to be around and even though they do not understand English or know very little English,” Yamada said, “I hope they keep the memories of the emotions and fun and loving environment from the base’s visits. I know the volunteers enjoy playing with the children and I hope they remember that forever.”

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