Service and sportsmanship: Camp Zama community runs, kicks and pulls toward the end of Army Birthday Week
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Hundreds of American and Japanese service members, civilians and their families gathered under the partly sunny sky over Camp Zama to celebrate the conclusion of Army Birthday Week with a culmination of sports, competitions and ceremonies conducted June 17, 2016.
The fifth and final day of outdoor activities opened with a command-wide fun run hosted by Army Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, commanding general, U.S. Army Japan (USARJ). Pasquarette’s open invitation permitted the men and women in uniform to bring their friends and loved ones. The result produced an amusing mixture of organized ranks and files of service members running in cadence with a colorful cast of spouses, children, baby strollers and small dogs trotting along the flanks.
Regardless their age, size, speed, creed or breed, every participant ended the two-mile route soaked from head to toe compliments of the Camp Zama Directorate of Emergency Services’ firetruck salute.
Later that morning, the community gathered at the Camp Zama High School stadium to join or cheer their respective units in the Camp Zama Army Birthday Week Championship finals. Hundreds of spectators set their eyes on the track to watch some of the post’s fastest sprinters attempt to break their personal best in the 100-meter dash. The attendees’ gaze then shifted to the field to witness a friendly soccer match between Camp Zama’s U.S. Soccer Team and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Central Readiness Force (CRF). The 30-minute see-saw battle ended with a 3-2 penalty shootout that clenched victory for the red, white and blue.
Between the match the U.S. Army and CRF’s strongest troops squared off in a best-of-three tug-of-war competition at the 50-yard line. After the U.S. team literally pulled a win in the final round, the troops gave way for the children of Camp Zama to take a tug on the rope.
The physical prowess and playful banter among the teams gave way to solemn pride as Pasquarette led 14 Soldiers in reciting the Oath of Enlistment during a mass reenlistment ceremony that honored their decision to voluntarily extend their service to their country and the United States Army.
The festivities concluded with an award presentation that recognized the winners of the 2016 USARJ Army Sports Week Competition. U.S. Army Aviation Battalion took first place, while the 78th Signal Battalion and the U.S. Army Medical Activity-Japan earned second and third place, respectively.
Pasquarette and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard R. Clark, command sergeant major, USARJ, also recognized other notable individuals and organizations that recently demonstrated the honor and pride of the Camp Zama community.
Fara McKinley, president of the Zama Community Spouses Association, received an award for her association’s donation of water bottles for the competitors and spectators. USARJ also recognized Shinobu Matsui, general manager of the Camp Zama Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), for earning the Director/CEO Cup, the highest honor for operational excellence among all AAFES chains in the “Small Exchange” category.
Pasquarette and Clark also presented certificates, medals or trophies to the U.S. Army Japan Band for winning the 2016 Music Performance Team of the Year award, Army Sgt. Drew Ayers and Army Spc. Lucas Patron for their selection as the 2016 USARJ Best Warrior Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year, and Sheyenne Sullivan for her exemplary performance in her assistance to displaced evacuees effected by April’s earthquakes in Kumamoto, Japan.
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John L. Carkeet IV, U.S. Army Japan