Zenkokai Association Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers, Organizations
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Vivian Blakely, NAF Atsugi Public Affairs
TOKYO – Nine individuals and four organizations from U.S. Navy installations in Japan were recognized for exceptional volunteer service by the Zenkokai Association of Japan during a ceremony held Nov. 26.
Each year the Zenkokai Association, an independent non-profit organization under the control of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, recognizes individuals and organizations for outstanding public service. The ceremony, normally held in May was postponed to Nov. 26 due to the March 11 Greater East Japan earthquake.
“It’s definitely an honor to receive something so prestigious,” said Yeoman 1st Class Fletcher McNeil of Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi. “I just like to volunteer in the community, on the weekends, or even during the week. It’s for the community.”
The Zenkokai Association recognized the awardees for their volunteer work in areas such as coaching, helping at orphanages and elderly homes, and teaching English among many other pure volunteer initiatives.
“Personally, I think it’s all about helping someone else,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Malkia Ross. “Even though you may not always be recognized, it’s never about that. It’s always about helping someone else.”
This year NAF Atsugi garnered the most awards from any one installation with three individuals and two organizations recognized for their good conduct and community services.
“These individuals and organizations exemplify the spirit of NAF Atsugi,” said Capt. Eric Gardner, commanding officer of NAF Atsugi. “As we demonstrated during Operation Tomodachi, it is our goal to always assist and contribute to the improvement of life and the environment of our surrounding communities. We continually strive to be great neighbors and allied partners to our gracious Japanese hosts.”
Capt. Richard Weathers, Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa represented the Navy in giving congratulatory remarks during the ceremony.
“These men and women did not engage in the activities that won them this great honor for the purpose of public recognition,” said Weathers. “They did so because they sincerely want to be a part of their community and friends to their Japanese neighbors and because of the great love they bear for the Nation of Japan.”
Ross says the volunteering doesn't stop with a prestigious award. “I hope that the Japanese community does see that we are here to help them and to offer them social support,” said Ross. “We are not here just to be here. We’re here and we are a part of the community.”
The individuals honored include: Mr. Jeffrey Wilson of NAF Misawa; Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class Dennis Koon of Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), NAF Misawa; Information Systems Technician 1st Class Malkia Ross of Navy Information Operations Command, Yokosuka; Yeoman 1st Class Fletcher McNeil of NAF Atsugi; Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Rodell Hardaway of NAF Atsugi Supply Department; Ms. Sakae Anne Suralie of the NAF Atsugi Fleet and Family Support Center; Operations Specialist 2nd Class Adam Richards of Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo Port Operations; Mr. Charles D. Bush of Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa (CFAO); and Yeoman 3rd Class Rie Okada of CFAO.
The organizations honored were: Navy Misawa First Class Petty Officer Mess; U.S. Navy Information Operation Command Misawa; NAF Atsugi Japan MWR Child and Youth Programs; and NAF Atsugi Safety and Security Departments.