Yokota maintainers help clean local town
MIZUHO TOWN, Japan -- Airmen from the 374th Maintenance Group search for trash during the 29th annual Mizuho town clean up outside Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 5, 2011. Every year a team of Yokota maintainers, working in conjunction with the Mizuho-Yokota Friendship Club, attend this outreach event in order to further improve Yokota's relationship with the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/Captain Raymond Geoffroy)
Yokota maintainers help local town clean the streets

by Captain Raymond Geoffroy
374 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/5/2011 - MIZUHO TOWN, Japan -- Sunday is usually a day for relaxation before another busy week of work, but for some Yokota Airmen, it was a day to roll up their sleeves and get cleaning.

The group of roughly 70 volunteers from the 374th Maintenance Group joined residents of Mizuho, a small town neighboring Yokota Air Base, during the town's 29th annual clean up day outside the base's northern perimeter the of morning of June 5.

Every year a group of Airmen from the 374th MXG, working in conjunction with the Mizuho-Yokota Friendship Club, attend this outreach event in order to improve Yokota's relationship with the local community.

This year the team split into two groups; half started their cleaning along route 16 next to Yokota's west gate, the remaining half traveled by bus around the base perimeter to Shin-Ome Kaido to begin their route. Both groups headed north to meet up at Mizuho's Eco Park.

Armed with gloves and trash bags, the Airmen set out gathering bottles, cans, cigarette butts and other assorted garbage along the walkways, roads and parking lots of Mizuho.

According to event planners Yokota's involvement in the annual clean-up is about more than just picking up trash, it is about being good friends and neighbors to the people of Mizuho.

"This is their day off too and we're doing it side-by-side with them," said Master Sgt. Paul Crisostomo, 374th Maintenance Group clean-up coordinator. "They're our neighbors and we are showing them that we care about the community."

The Airmen encountered several local residents who would often pause from their own cleaning to offer a smile, a 'thank you' or an occasional bow to the maintainers as they crossed paths.

For the volunteers who awoke early to help the clean up, the experience was well worth the lost sleep.

"This is awesome. I don't get to do that many community events, but I heard some guys talking about this and decided to join in," said Staff Sgt. Phil Pham, a maintainer with the 374th Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight. "It's great when the locals look at us and smile."

After a few hours of cleaning the streets, the Airmen gathered at Eco Park to turn in their trash and receive a few parting words of thanks at a small closing ceremony.

"Twenty-nine years ago we started this clean up event to make Mizuho a cleaner town," said Kouemon Ishizuka, Mizuho Town Mayor . "I feel that every year Mizuho has become cleaner and cleaner. I am very happy about this."

"Thank you all very much for your participation and support," he added. "I hope Mizuho and Yokota will continue this great relationship."

And so, as the crew of maintainers departed the park, they left knowing they helped make the town of Mizuho a little bit cleaner and the bond between Yokota and its neighbor a little bit stronger.