MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan --
The summer months in Japan offer many opportunities for people to experience a variety of events and festivals. U.S. personnel on Okinawa view this festive season as a chance to highlight the military installations and display the equipment and tools they use every day.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma hosted its 35th annual Futenma Flightline Fair June 8 and 9. Approximately 70,000 people attended the event this year, which is an increase of 15,000 visitors in comparison to last year's fair.
The event provided an opportunity for Okinawa community members, status of forces agreement personnel and U.S. service members to come together and enjoy carnival games, rides and delicious food all while learning about various types of military equipment and their purpose on Okinawa.
“I like the festival because you get to win prizes and see these cool planes,” said Abby Emory, a five-year-old child and festivalgoer. “At the festival, you can build relationships with everyone and get more friends.”
In addition to food, live music and games, visitors viewed a wide array of military vehicles and static aircraft displays such as an RT240 rough terrain container handler, three F/A-18 Hornets, a KC-135 Stratotanker, two MV-22B Ospreys and a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter. The vehicles and aircraft are assigned to various units with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and the U.S. Air Force’s 18th Wing.
One of the more popular attractions at the static display was the Osprey, according to Capt. Bryan G. Hole, an Osprey pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW. As helicopter squadrons on Okinawa transition from the CH-46E to the Osprey, many people are interested in the different capabilities of the aircraft.
“I think it’s extremely important for the public to learn about the Osprey,” said Hole. “We have demonstrated that we can operate safely through hours of safe flying time around Okinawa. Getting the public to see the aircraft and explaining what we do enables them to have confidence in our ability to fly safely and help them in the event of a crisis.”
The community members also expressed their shared enjoyment of the festival.
“It is really fun to see the aircraft at this festival,” said Setsuko Nakamura, a festivalgoer from Ginowan City. “When I see the Osprey fly by, I realize that this is something we need to understand. The Osprey was deployed in order to protect our country. This is for our defense, and we need to remember that.”
For some attendees, the fair was about more than festivities, but rather a chance to learn about the unique aspects of U.S. culture that the service members and their families bring to Okinawa, according to Naomi Tamanaha, an attendee from Nanjyo City.
“These events are good for the communication between Japan and the U.S.,” said Tamanaha. “I have been coming to this festival since I was young, so I am accustomed to that communication, but for Okinawa this is a special event because it is a good chance to practice speaking English.”
Dazzling fireworks ended the Futenma Flightline Fair with a bang, and the visitors were able to enjoy the educational and entertaining experience with the hope of attending events like this in the near future, according to Tamanaha.