By Sgt. Opal Hood, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentFebruary 1, 2011
CAMP KENGUN, Japan - Successful military training exercise depend on skill, concentration and good morale from participants, and Yama Sakura 59 is no exception. Sending and receiving mail boosts morale - the old-fashioned way.
Sgt. Kim Rene Blackgoat, from Gilbert, Ariz., is in Japan for Yama Sakura 59, and is assigned to the 376th Human Resources Command. Her mission is to assist her Japanese counterparts with shipping and receiving mail.
"Customer service is my calling," said Blackgoat, who has been in the Army for 17 years. "I enjoy giving Soldiers a little bit of comfort. It's not much to most, but to a Soldier in the field it means a lot.
Being a human resources specialist gives her the added advantage of being able to work face-to-face with customers and provide them a high level of service.
"Although I am trained to be a postal worker for the Army, my job here is very limited," she added. "We cannot sell stamps and things of that nature. We are here to help our Japanese counterparts."
During Yama Sakura 59, she has interacted with Japanese culture in two other ways - dining with a Japanese family and visiting a Japanese kindergarten.
"The best way to learn culture is not from reading a book or watching it on TV," she said. "Interacting with people and the culture is the best way to experience new things. This is a unique mission like I have never been on before. I am very happy I got this opportunity."
"This trip is different from other places I have been like Germany, which is more similar to American culture than Japanese culture," said Blackgoat, adding that she learns something new in each country she visits.
Yama Sakura 59, the U.S. Army Pacific's premier bilateral training exercise, is the foundation of Japanese and U.S. defense cooperation. The exercise is used to develop and refine the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. Army Japan's efforts in bilateral planning, coordination and interoperability.
Roughly 1,500 U.S. personnel and 4,500 Western Army Soldiers are participating in the exercise. U.S. units include USARPAC, I Corps Forward, I Corps and U.S. Army Japan. Yama Sakura ends Feb. 2.