CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 13, 2014) -- It immediately became the highlight of their field trip when they reached the tarmac just in time to see the large aircraft and feel the powerful gusts of wind generated by its rotor. They couldn't take their eyes off of it.
"We got to see the helicopter land up close and personal!" said one of four 10th-graders from the nearby Zama Special Needs School who visited Camp Zama Feb. 7 to tour the installation and meet with several of the Soldiers, civilians and Japanese employees who work there.
Staff Sgt. John Staudacher and Sgt. Michael Braden, both assigned to the U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan, assisted the students with getting on the helicopter and trying on some of the gear.
The Soldiers looked sharp and somewhat intimidating in their uniforms but were surprisingly very kind, one of the students said.
"The universal language for us all is a smile, and we were able to bring a smile to their faces today," said Martin Watkins, manager of Camp Zama's Kastner Army Airfield, who led the students on a tour of the U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan's headquarters building.
The students later visited the U.S. Army Japan Military Police Battalion headquarters.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Mendez, assigned to the 88th Military Police Battalion, showed the students the different types of police vehicles, investigation tools utilized by the MPs, as well as their holding cell.
"I just want [these students] to know that we are more about community service as opposed to being hard on people," said Mendez. "We want to help. We are here to educate more than anything."
The field trip allowed the students see, feel and experience something different than they ever had before anywhere in Japan, said Manami Oda, a staff member at the Zama Special Needs School who supervised the students during the trip. The visit therefore greatly broadened the students' experiences, she added.