U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL, Okinawa, Japan -- Three Marines and one Sailor of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit were among a group of service members recognized for their community serivce by the United States Consul General, Naha, here, Dec. 5.
Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Adams, a CH-46E mechanic for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, and native of Covington, Ga.; Lance Cpl. Justin R. Blackburn, a CH-46E mechanic for HMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and native of Cambria, Calif.; Cpl. Angie Pazmino, a ground training non-commissioned officer for HMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and native of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Omar K. Dalton, an aerospace medical technician for HMM-262 (REIN), 31st MEU, and native of Detroit, Mich., participated in a multi-week program to teach English to Okinawan students of local information technology schools.
For their efforts in the Okinawan community, Alfred R. Magleby, U.S. Consul General, Naha, presented each Marine with a certificate of appreciation and his sincere gratitude.
“The media does a good job of headlining the bad news, but we don’t hear much about the good,” said Magleby, a graduate of Brigham Young University and the U.S. Naval War College. “When service members are willing to volunteer and contribute their knowledge it really helps community relations.”
The service members were presented the opportunity to help the Okinawa students through their participation in the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Single Marine Program. For each of them, the chance to take part in a substantial effort was too good to pass.
“I enjoy volunteering in general, but I knew the impact that this program would have and definitely wanted to be a part of it,” said Dalton.
Each service member worked with their Japanese counterparts for several weeks in July and August, preparing the students for a trip to San Francisco. Some of the students being taught by the Marines and Sailor were certified inventors and engineers, making the experience quite humbling, according to Dalton.
Meeting new people, gaining a broader understanding of Okinawan culture, and lending a hand to their community are a few of the perks that the Marines and Sailor received from their experience. Though none of them set out with gain in mind, all were grateful for the recognition they received.
“I am really honored that my time and effort is being recognized,” said Adams. “For me, it was a very good experience, where I was able to meet some new friends.”
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force-in-readiness for the Asia-Pacific region and the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.