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Naoshi Higa, a photo laboratory technician with the Audio and Visual Technical Center, Marine Corps Bases – Japan, develops film photographs on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, circa 1988. Mr. Higa has worked for the Communication Strategy and Operations office, formerly Marine Corps Bases - Japan combat camera, for 36 years assisting service members stationed on Okinawa in updating and capturing official photos to be used for passports, command boards, promotion boards, tattoo documentation, and other military requirements. (Courtesy photo by Naoshi Higa)

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Pulliam

Faces of MCIPAC: Naoshi Higa

1 Oct 2021 | Cpl. Ryan H. Pulliam Marine Corps Installations Pacific

After arriving at the Camp Foster photo studio, a customer greets the front desk attendant, fills out an application slip, makes his way down the long hallway with his service alpha uniform in tow, and arrives to be greeted by a gentleman enthused and glad to take his official portrait.

That gentleman, Naoshi Higa, a photo laboratory technician with the Marine Corps Installations Pacific Combat Visual Information Center, has worked for the CVIC, formerly Marine Corps Bases - Japan combat camera, for 36 years. In those years he has assisted service members, U.S. government employees, and their dependents stationed on Okinawa in updating and capturing official photos to be used for passports, command boards, promotion boards, tattoo documentation, and other military requirements.

“What I like most about working here is getting to meet a lot of people,” said Higa. “From private first class to general, I can meet a whole slew of people. I take great pleasure in capturing my customers’ smiles every day.”

Days vary for Higa-san, meaning Mr. Higa, one day he will be slumped with customer after customer each with a different request, and others he will be visited by only a single customer for the entire day. This uneven work tempo has persisted since he was first hired, and he has grown to enjoy it.

Higa’s work ethic is both mirrored and recognized by the other coworkers of the CVIC.

“From the process of opening the studio each day, how he greets the costumers, and how he completes each request, I know every step in the process is followed through,” said Master Sgt. E. Vance Hagewood, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the CVIC. “Higa-san gives special attention to everything he does because he knows that the Marines he works with in the shop and those costumers that he interacts with depend on him to make them look their very best.”

Hagewood was originally stationed with MCIPAC from 2009 to 2012 as a staff sergeant in charge of the video section of combat camera.

“In other commands, Marines take turn operating the photo studio, so it was great to have a dedicated employee in control of the studio,” said Hagewood. “The amount of years and service members that have been in our studio from the lowest of ranks to three star generals, Higa-san has developed tricks of the trade that he teaches all the Marines.”

Higa-san, as he’s referred to by his coworkers, ensures that he creates a welcoming environment, especially to those who’ve recently been hired or attached to the office.

“He is kind, responsible and always uncompromising with his work,” said Satoru Koki, a commercial artist with the CVIC. Koki originally applied for his position in 1996 and is one of the few employees at the CVIC currently that have worked with Higa-san since switching locations office locations.

“At that time,” Koki said, “there were only older Japanese employees in this workplace, and the younger generation was only Higa-san and I. Higa-san taught me various things to me who didn't know anything about this workplace. He is still like a caring brother after 25 years.”

Despite a language barrier between himself and the Marines of the office, both parties have still been able to interact and communicate well throughout the past 36 years.

“The Marines have not changed since I started,” Higa-san said. “Everybody is so kind to me working here, and I enjoy working with them every day.”


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Marine Corps Installations Pacific