Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 draws 25,000 visitors
Service members from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines acting as the color guard and carrying the flags of the 50 states and six U.S. territories march at the start of the “Salute to the Nation” ceremony July 2 during Camp Zama’s Independence Day celebration. The event was Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 and drew more than 25,000 visitors. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – More than 25,000 visitors came to Camp Zama July 2 for the installation’s Independence Day celebration, which was also the first open-post event held there since 2019.

Attendees filled Yano Field to celebrate America’s 246th birthday with a day that included live music, games, food and a fireworks display at the end of the evening.

USAG Japan Commander Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson said he was happy to host Saturday’s celebration, since COVID-19 had put many public outdoor events on hold for the last two years.

Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 draws 25,000 visitors
A U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan Soldier and a guest pose for a selfie in front of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter July 2 during Camp Zama’s Independence Day celebration. The event was Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 and drew more than 25,000 visitors. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

He praised the organization of the event as a team effort that included support from tenant partners, Zama City and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

“Today’s celebration was a great opportunity to bring both the Camp Zama community as well as the local community onto the installation together,” Tomlinson said. “It’s really important, not only for our mission here, but for the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

The centerpiece of the event was a “Salute to the Nation” ceremony, which Tomlinson described as a way to pay tribute to Independence Day and to honor America by representing the joint partnership between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines located in Japan. As part of the ceremony, Soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines presented the flags of the 50 states and six U.S. territories.

“We wanted to do something to respect what the Fourth of July an our independence means,” Tomlinson said.

Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 draws 25,000 visitors
Lucinda Ward, center, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, and guests pose for a photo July 2 during Camp Zama’s Independence Day celebration. The event was Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 and drew more than 25,000 visitors. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

Manabu Sugawara, a first-time visitor to Camp Zama, said he and his family enjoyed the festivities, saying what a unique experience it was him and his family to visit a U.S. military installation. He said he would like to come to more open-post events in the future.

“It was special to be able to come onto to the installation and see a military ceremony like the Salute the Nation up close,” Sugawara said. “It was really impressive; the service members looked very sharp presenting all the flags.”

Master Sgt. Christopher Hirata, assigned to USAG Japan, was in charge of the Salute to the Nation ceremony and said all the service members involved represented America and their respective military branches with a high level of professionalism. He said he felt pride seeing the crowd applaud the ceremony.

“This event was a great opportunity to show the local community that the Soldiers and other U.S. service members are here to support them and Japan,” Hirata said.

Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 draws 25,000 visitors
The U.S. Army Japan Band and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Central Band perform a joint concert July 2 during the fireworks finale of Camp Zama’s Independence Day celebration. The event was Camp Zama’s first open-post event since 2019 and drew more than 25,000 visitors. (Photo Credit: Kei Sasaki, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Visual Information Division) VIEW ORIGINAL

During the fireworks finale, the U.S. Army Japan Band performed in a joint concert with the JGSDF Central Band.