Story by Staff Sgt. Andre E. Russo
Soldiers and supporting civilian personnel of the 10th Missile Defense Battery (MDB), known as the Samurai Battery and stationed at the Shariki Communications Site in Japan, participated in the Annual Bug and Fire Festival June 16, 2018.
The festival is held each year in the town of Goshogawara to pray for the peace, tranquility, and security of the nation, a good harvest, and warding off evil.
This is one of the many festivals that the unit participates in helping to not only build upon community relations, but also introduce the Soldiers of the unit to integrate and form connections with an aspect of the Japanese culture.
"An opportunity like this does not come around often, working with the community and being able to participate in their traditions is an honor and is something that I wish to be a part of for my remaining time here with 10th MDB," said Spc. Tarik R. Norman, a newly arrived chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) specialist.
The 10th MDB, Soldiers, and supporting contractors were dressed in traditional white Samurai attire and joined with other teams made up of members from the local community.
Members of the team, called the "Samurai Junkies", marched and carried a six-meter torch through downtown Goshogawara to a dry riverbed while spectators chanted and cheered the American presence from Shariki. Each torch was then laid in an enormous fire pit as the teams reached the end of their route.
At the conclusion of the march, all of the spectators and participants were able to make their rounds to many of the vendors who were selling anything from food and drinks to souvenirs. A stage in the center of the festival grounds provided traditional music and dance entertainment.
The festival culminated when two huge dragons made of straw were set ablaze, triggering a spectacular fireworks display. 1st Lt. Robert E. Tadazak, another new arrival to the unit, described his experience at his first festival.
"The number of people that showed up and the amount of excitement and enthusiasm that the people showed was exhilarating. To be able to participate in an event like this is something that I will never forget," said Tadazak.