CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Rainy skies couldn’t dampen soaring spirits as U.S. Army Garrison Japan employees gathered Oct. 14 for an organizational day featuring food, fun, sports and other activities.
Garrison Commander Col. Christopher Tomlinson and Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Turner opened the “Org Day” event at Camp Zama’s Dewey Park by welcoming attendees and thanking them for the world-class service and support they provide to the Soldiers, civilians and family members of the United States Army in Japan to ensure the overall mission readiness and well-being of the community on a daily basis.
“The work you complete daily does not go unnoticed,” Tomlinson said. “I am humbled to be part of such an outstanding team.”
Tomlinson and Turner started by recognizing the Garrison’s top performers in an awards presentation. (See full awardee list below.)
Tomlinson also announced the winner of the Org Day T-shirt design contest. Garrison directorates and support staff offices were invited to design T-shirts to match the event’s “family reunion” theme. Entries were judged on originality, creativity and innovation, as well as eye-appeal and visibility.
The Army Community Service team won the contest with a design featuring a tree and its roots with the logo, “Our bond runs deep—our connection runs deeper.” Members of the Public Affairs/Visual Information office and Postal Service Center also competed in the contest with their own hand-crafted designs.
Following the opening ceremony and a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks, Garrison employees spread out across the installation to take part in various events such as karaoke, kickball, dodgeball and volleyball, among others.
Lucinda Ward, who led the event planning committee, said one of the biggest efforts was to create an experience that would help boost the morale of the workforce and make it a day they wouldn’t forget. She said it was important to have representatives from across the Garrison on the planning committee so they could serve as the “voices for their workplace during the planning and execution” phases.
“We were able to bounce off out-of-the-box ideas throughout the planning process,” Ward said of the committee. “Many committee members were able to synergize with others they never met.”
One crucial goal was selecting a theme, and “family reunion” was one of the top three options. Committee members were asked to bring the theme choices back to their offices, and to seek feedback.
“It was almost a unanimous vote for ‘family reunion,’” Ward said.
That theme also resounded strongly with Garrison leadership.
“When I think of our total workforce—our Soldiers, our Department of the Army civilians and our local national teammates—I truly think of them as the Garrison family,” Turner said. “It was great to see everyone take a needed break to spend some quality time together.”
Ward said that although she has worked for the U.S. Army for more than 20 years, this was the first Org Day event she had ever attended. She said it was difficult to know what to expect, or what others in the Garrison were expecting.
“Seeing the vision come to life right before my eyes was like magic to me,” Ward said. “It amazed me to see the committee work together behind closed doors to bring smiles and laughter to the Garrison workforce.”
Ultimately, Ward said she was incredibly thrilled with the final outcome. As was the garrison commander.
“This was a truly outstanding day for our team and we didn’t let a little rain slow us down,” Tomlinson said. “I’m thankful to everyone who put in the work and logged in the long hours to make today a success.”
Certificates of appreciation were awarded to members of the Organizational Day committee. They included Capt. Michael Clark, Sean Gilmore, Michael Hammond, Nicholas Higgins, Danny Kealoha, Amber Kurka and Yohane Maeda.
Civilian Service Achievement Medals were award to two members of the Organizational Day committee: Kaoru Nishi and William Townsend.
The Civilian Service Commendation Medal was presented to Ward for serving as the team lead for the successful planning and execution of the Organizational Day.
Bon Odori Festival
Certificates of appreciation and commander’s coins were presented to four members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force for their assistance and cooperation in conducting the Garrison-hosted Bon Odori event: Warrant Officer Taro Doi, Master Sgt. Shuichi Chiba, Sgt. Koshiro Komukai and Leading Pvt. Yuskue Kohara.
Commander’s coins were presented to personnel who assisted in the successful operation of Bon Odori: Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bachman, Noah Brewer, Chinatsu Igarashi, Naoko Kanda, Michael Larkin, Sgt. Alec Tran and Somerson Wong.
Certificates of appreciation were presented to Yasuhiko Kaneko and Yoshihiro Isono for their service in keeping the Garrison informed on all actions and concerns throughout the planning of open-post events, including the Independence Day celebration and Bon Odori Festival.
The Civilian Service Achievement Medal was presented to Randy Benton for his service as the special events coordinator, who spearheaded and executed both the Independence Day celebration and Bon Odori Festival.
The Civilian Service Achievement Medal was presented to Hiroaki Takase for his work to ensure vendor contracts were executed to support both the Independence Day Celebration and the Bon Odori Festival.