US Army Volunteers in Japan Help Local City Host Olympic Events | Item
CITY OF SAGAMIHARA, Japan (July 26, 2021) – About 50 U.S. Army volunteers in Japan helped Sagamihara city officials successfully organize the men’s and women’s road cycling events on the first two days of the Olympic Games from Tokyo on July 24 and 25.
The volunteers said they jumped at the chance to have a unique experience.
USARJ Staff Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Eason said he asked himself a fairly simple question when offered the opportunity to join members of Camp Zama’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, or BOSS, to volunteer.
“What is the possibility of being able to volunteer for the Olympics?” he explained. “The Olympics, anywhere, ever? “
Eason volunteered both days, helping in the men’s race on Saturday and the women’s race on Sunday. Temperatures spiked in the 90s on both days resulting in long, hot shifts.
The cycling events, both grueling 151 miles, crossed about 18 miles from the town of Sagamihara. Countless volunteers were needed to line up the course to install barriers, ensure the overall safety of participants and clean up after the cyclists crossed in pursuit of Olympic gold.
Officials in the city of Sagamihara initially began discussions with the U.S. Army Garrison in Japan in 2018 on a way to include the military community to help celebrate their long-standing friendship and various community exchanges.
What they couldn’t predict, however, was COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic would have on the Olympics, including a one-year delay of the games. Despite the uncertainty, military and city officials continued with their planning, which included a rehearsal in the summer of 2020.
Randy Benton, BOSS Program Advisor in the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Branch, has been involved in the planning from the start. He said he was delighted that the soldiers could actually help.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to be a partner of the city,” he said. “It is important for the Japanese people to see the US military engaged in the community.
The event offered to Sgt. Renalyn Lawson the opportunity to be a part of history while meeting great people.
“I wanted to be a part of it,” Lawson said of the Olympics. “And it was amazing getting to work with the Japanese volunteers too.”
Captain Frank Taylor, assigned to USAG Japan, said being on the scene made him enjoy the games better.
“Yeah, it was really exciting to see the runners who worked their entire lives for this moment,” said Taylor.
Taylor also said it was enlightening to see the behind-the-scenes work involved in putting on an event of this magnitude. Taylor and his fellow volunteers arrived hours early for safety briefings and explanation of their duties. Dozens of police, support vehicles and other Olympic endowment vehicles walked past the volunteers, some broadcasting thank you messages in English.
Volunteer Richard Meyer, an avid cyclist, said he was happy to participate.
“I love it; it’s my second day here,” he said on Sunday as he cleaned up after the race.
Meyer said he considers the Olympic races and the Tour de France to be the two most important cycling events in the world, so he absolutely wanted to participate and lend a helping hand.
Yoshikazu Kajino, Head of the Sagamihara City Olympic and Paralympic Games Promotion Division, thanked all of the USARJ volunteers and staff who participated despite the extreme weather conditions.
“Although it was extremely hot, I think the members of the military followed the instructions of the leaders well, set up the course and provided advice along the way,” he said. declared. “We were very satisfied and also very happy to be able to interact with them throughout the event. Thanks to everyone’s excellent work, we were able to successfully run the Tokyo 2020 Olympic road cycling event. ”