SAGAMIHARA, Japan – An area of Sagamihara Asamizo Park was made safer for the children who play there, thanks to the efforts of a group of U.S. Soldiers who volunteered there Dec. 21.
The Soldiers, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, used axes and shovels to clear several old tree stumps from an athletic field at the park, which is located about a 15-minute drive from Camp Zama, Japan.
Shigeyuki Saito, a facility manager for the park, said ridding the area of the stumps was very important work because they were a safety hazard due to their proximity to a nearby playground.
Saito said he was surprised by how quickly and easily the Soldiers were able to work.
“They dug out more stumps than we expected!” Saito said. “We appreciate our American friends for their hard work today. We are also honored to have them come and help us out.”
The 38th ADA Soldiers began volunteering at the park on a monthly basis since September as a way to help strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance and be good neighbors. They previously took part in planting hydrangeas, Sagamihara City’s official flower, and pulling weeds to beautify the park’s gardens.
Sgt. Jack Walker, a mechanic assigned to 38th ADA and a father of three young boys, has participated in the volunteer program four times. He said he often brings his family to the park on the weekend and that his sons enjoy being outside in nature and playing on the climbing course there.
“My kids love it here,” Walker said, “so I would like to help make the park better.
“I think my motivation [to volunteer] comes from having the privilege to be in Japan and experience Japanese culture.” he added. “The best thing I can do is to give back to the [local] community.”
The Soldiers dug out eight tree stumps in just an hour and a half before working together to tackle the biggest stump last.
“Even with the right tools, you have to have a strong team to get the job done.” Walker said. “Considering different ideas and thinking positively can make a hard problem easy. I think it’s all about teamwork.”