JANUARY 7, 2021 – Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji Marines and sailors participated in a cleanup day at the installation’s Numazu Beach Training Area, Shizuoka, Japan, Dec. 30, 2020. Despite the gray skies and wind, 21 service members spent the day collecting approximately 2700 liters of trash and other ocean debris, as well as seven truckloads of large driftwood.
A 45-minute drive from the main installation, the beach serves as a training ground for diverse land, sea, and amphibious vehicles, and is the only strip of beach on the Japanese mainland that the U.S. Marine Corps controls. After sitting largely idle in the past year due to a variety of factors, the cleanup day served as preparation towards reopening the beach to U.S. Forces Japan operations.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Puckett, CATC Camp Fuji installation gunner and head of range control which oversees the installation’s training areas, expressed excitement at the training beach’s potential, “The next thing we’re going to look at doing is rotary wing operations, actually putting a helicopter on the beach,” he said. “We’re also looking at conducting surface connector training—AAVs, LCUs, and LCACs are certified to conduct operations on Numazu beach.”
While cleanup prior to landing is important to the USFJ and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, who also utilize the beach, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Puckett explained that when not in use by the military, the beach is open to the community.
“There are local fisherman who frequent the area, people who go down to the beach, and we want our area to be clean and free of debris and trash,” he said.
“For the portion of beach we control, we want to provide a safe environment that the citizens of Numazu can go and enjoy.” Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Puckett, CATC Camp Fuji installation gunner and head of range control
After collecting and separating trash for easy disposal for the city of Numazu, Marines and sailors relocated large pieces of trash to the installation’s environmental office where tires, metal, and large driftwood could be safely and properly disposed of.
As CATC Camp Fuji continues modernization of its training center capabilities in keeping with the USMC commandant’s Force Design 2030 transformation, Numazu Beach Training Area is one of several training areas that provides unique opportunities for visiting units. Because of this, Cpl. Anthony Hernandez, a CATC Camp Fuji range control operator who organized the cleanup, says Marines on the installation also have unique responsibilities.
“Being here at Camp Fuji it feels like NCOs are in charge of bigger responsibilities, so it’s a nice thing that you’re allowed to do that,” he said.
He explained the comparatively small headquarters company means junior NCOs are provided leadership opportunities which normally fall to more senior NCOs on other installations.
“It gave me a bigger perspective—depending on how good we did at Numazu beach would show the effort to other units. Having that mindset in my head made me strive to do a better job.”
With more units expected at the beach in the coming year, CATC Camp Fuji range control plans to continue with a monthly cleanup, something Cpl. Hernandez said he looks forward to, not just to help the community, but for the personal accomplishment.
“It made me feel like I can make a change for Camp Fuji. It made me feel better as an NCO.”
By Katie Gray | Marine Corps Installations Pacific