U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 3rd Infantry Division, and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force participated in an ultimate Frisbee tournament on Aibano Training Area, Japan, July 2, 2021. Both parties have been training together since June 24, 2021, the start of exercise Orient Shield.
During the tournament, nine-person teams competed to be crowned champions. The fields, wet and muddy from rain the night before, made for a lot of fun with competitors slipping and sliding throughout the games.
“Even though I am older, I am doing my best to play with the young people,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kanji Tojo with the JGSDF. Tojo has trained with U.S. counterparts throughout Orient Shield. “I’m having fun.”
The tournament made for a pleasant break from training for participants from both sides.
“I think it’s important to have recreational activities like this during training because competition builds camaraderie,” says Sgt. 1st Class Randall Durbin, the first sergeant for Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt.
With more teams than could play at one time, Black Lions and members of the JGSDF who weren’t playing spent time on the sidelines cheering, talking and joking with one another. After so much time spent together during the exercise, Black Lions and members of the JGSDF are starting to get to know each on a more personal level.
“I have a blast every time I get a chance to see them,” said Durbin of his JGSDF counterparts. “There are a couple JGSDF guys that you can pick out that you’ve had long conversations with and they are always excited to see you the next time they get to.”
With Orient Shield coming to an end in a little less than a week, the U.S. and JGSDF still have much more training to do, but events like these help keep morale high.