CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 17, 2016) - U.S. Army Japan hosted its week-long celebration of the Army's 241st birthday June 13 - 17 with several events around Camp Zama.

These festivities celebrated the Army, which was founded June 14, 1775, and the Soldiers, Civilians, Family Members, and Local National Employees for their contributions to national defense.

This year's theme was "The American Soldier - Always Ready, Always Leading."

This year's local theme for USARJ was "Our Army and Japan, Stronger Together."

"Once a year we try to draw attention to the service and sacrifice of the United States Army over the history of our nation," said Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, commanding general of USARJ.

"I'm hoping my Soldiers across Japan feel good about being in the U.S. Army," he said.

Camp Zama Soldiers from several units participated in a variety of competitive activities, including fitness challenges, basketball, tug of war, soccer, races, swimming, softball, golf scramble and variety of other competitions.

"The 241st Birthday of the Army at Camp Zama has been exceptional," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Clark, command sergeant major of USARJ. "The Soldiers, Family Members, Civilians and our Japanese counterparts have had a great time - nothing but positive feedback."

A Vietnam War commemoration ceremony was also held along with a change of command ceremony for U.S. Army Medical Department Activities-Japan.

Although it rained throughout the week, the weather was clear for the final day of events.

Pasquarette, and his son Luke, led a host of Soldiers - along with some Civilians, Family Members, Local National Employees and Airmen of the U.S. Air Force - on a Community Fun Run/Walk.

"I think it's always good to have the family members come out to take advantage of what our husbands and wives do as far as physical training," said Fara McKinley, Family Member.

The week's finale continued with a K9 demonstration, 100-meter dash, and a 400-meter relay between senior leadership followed by several bilateral activities to include members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force.

"We often interact with each other and exercise together, but an opportunity like this - where members of JGSDF have a chance to see and feel the American culture and its people - helps us build a better relationship," said Sgt. 1st Class Hiroki Kimura, assigned to Central Readiness Force of JGSDF.

"It's incredibly important that they (JGSDF) are a part of this celebration," said Pasquarette. "The alliance (with Japan) is very strong, and it's getting stronger because of the close relationship between the U.S. Army and the Ground Self Defense Force.

Fourteen Soldiers participated in a mass reenlistment ceremony on the football field of Zama American High School.

Pasquarette said this week was a perfect time to do a mass reenlistment after the Army's sacrifice of service for the last 241 years.

"For you 14 Soldiers here, thank you for what you have decided to continue to do," he said, continuing on to thank all Soldiers, Civilians, Family Members, other service members and Army employees for their continued service.

The competition ended with the presentation of numerous awards, including the U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan winning first place in the overall competition and JGSDF for being undefeated in soccer.

The fastest command group was 78th Signal Battalion, and the fastest man - Spc. Tarrie McPherson - and woman - Spc. Marcisha Bennett - came from USAG Japan, according to scoring records.

"It's all about morale," said Spc. Samuel Avila, information technology specialist assigned to 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, "getting out there and watching the teams and cheering on your teams even if you're not part of the game yourself - and if you are a part of the game - giving 110 percent."

Command Sgt. Maj. Rosalba Dumont-Carrion, command sergeant major of USAG Japan, said she was "very pleased" with the weeklong celebration.

"This week brought all our service members together - as well as those who support the Army: Civilians, Family Members and Local National Employees," she said. "It also showed how we can be a cohesive team no matter what."

"At the end of the day we are one Army and Army strong!"