CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 3, 2018) -- Camp Zama celebrated the 242nd birthday of the United States June 30 at Yano Field with a variety of activities, including live music, a kids' play zone, and lots of food.
Col. Phillip K. Gage, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, kicked off the event by welcoming the attendees in his opening remarks.
"United States Army Japan's Soldiers and Family, everyone out here, we really benefit from living in Japan, enjoy what we got over here: our strong relationships with our neighbors outside the gate … Zama City and Sagamihara," said Gage. "For events like this, we can come out and show our bilateral appreciation."
An estimated 11,000 people from on and off the installation attended the celebration, according to the Directorate of Emergency Services.
"To observe this community event, it's only right that we invite the local community into the gate to join us in the celebration," said Rick Bosch, director for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "We really embrace being part of Japanese culture…it is just an ongoing collaborative partnership we are really proud of."
Sgt. William Birdsall, president of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, assigned to Military Police Battalion Japan, helped children with the bouncy castle, jump house and inflatables at the kids' play zone.
"It's actually a nice chance to give back and help out," said Birdsall.
Ten BOSS members came out to volunteer to assist with the activities provided for participants, according to Birdsall.
"This actually gives them opportunities to talk to them and interact so it actually builds nice support between us and the local nationals in Japan," said Birdsall.
Mei Takahashi, event attendee, said a friend invited her to come to this open post event.
"It seems there are so many people with different backgrounds on base, but they blended in as one and created a relaxed atmosphere," said Takahashi.
The celebration concluded with a performance by the US Army Japan Band in collaboration with the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Band, Zama Music Association and the 721th Army Band from Guam Army National Guard followed by a fireworks show.