Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

A lot of Marine Corps news articles remind me of stuff I did or saw or griped about since I’ve been in the military. I save them, intending to come back later and write a post, but obviously I never do.

UNTIL TODAY.

Community, service members celebrate years of friendship: “Festive music played as community members, Marines and sailors gathered Sept. 14 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the opening of the Hikarigaoka Nursing Home and the nearly 20 years of ongoing friendship between the residents and 7th Communication Battalion. The Marine and Navy volunteers have visited the nursing home twice a month in recent years to provide grounds maintenance and engage in fellowship.”

The 7th Communication Battalion (7th Crime) was my first duty station after I finished MOS school, and while I was there, I made two trips to the Hikarigaoka Nursing Home. (for some reason I always thought it was just “Hikariga”) The first one was a grounds maintenance visit and the second one was to attend some sort of party they were throwing. The following pictures are from the grounds maintenance trip, and the party photos will be a separate post. (for those of you who follow my Facebook page, most of the photos that were making me laugh were party photos)

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

I try to always take photos like this in case I forget where I was when I was taking pictures. Comes in handy sometimes!

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

This is one of the infamous “banana” spiders that everyone hated. They make super-tough, sticky webs that are super-fun to run into and then try to peel off your face. Looks like this one is eating a cicada. Yum.

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

I think this is the same Marine who also appears in another photo holding a weed whacker and in both photos, he’s looking dejectedly at the machinery as though he’d rather be sleeping. Which is probably true.

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

Have you noticed that every single Marine in every photo is wearing a CamelBak? It was so hot and humid on Okinawa in the summer that you could sweat out a gallon of water just walking from the barracks to work. I think somebody high-ranking decreed that all Marines were required to wear a CamelBak wherever we went in order to reduce the likelihood that we would sweat out all our water stores and pass out in a gutter.

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

I love this photo. It made me laugh because it sums up an extremely common interaction between male and female Marines:

Female Marine is surrounded by male Marines.
Male Marine makes a stupid comment.
Female Marine tells the male Marine “shut up fool”.

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

This ENTIRE set of photos was sunny and pretty, except this one. It must have been a speedy rain shower.

 

Hikarigaoka Nursing Home

In the article, it says that 7th Comm Marines went to Hikarigaoka to do yard work and “engage in fellowship” with the residents, but we did not engage in any fellowship while I was there, or at least I didn’t see any fellowshipping. I’d be surprised if any of them spoke English and we certainly did not speak enough Japanese to hold a conversation.

Somewhere inside the main building there was a balcony where a long row of elderly residents were sitting and watching what was going on. I remember looking up at their silent, solemn faces and wondering what they thought of a group of U.S. Marines roaming through their home again. They were all clearly old enough to have been alive during World War II, and I wondered what kinds of distant, horrifying memories might have resurfaced when they saw us.