BY SKY M. LARON DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER YOKOSUKA
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A sign leads the way for NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Chief Selects toward Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery.
Future chief petty officers from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka gathered on sacred soil Sept. 9 in Japan’s coastal port city of Yokohama to aid in the upkeep of a piece of land that many of the city’s founding fathers call their final resting place.
On a bluff high atop the bustling metropolis sits Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery where a highly select handful of NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s future chief petty officers spent an afternoon in typhoon-like conditions battling wind and rain to clear trash and debris as well as pull overgrown vegetation and weeds from the historic grounds.
These Sailors, who have been chosen to join the chief’s mess this fall will be putting on anchors Sept. 16 (the Navy’s traditional pinning day for all new chiefs), took it upon themselves to show respect for the grounds and those who have been laid to rest there.
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Chief Logistics Specialist (SEL) Kasey Waldron, a Bronx, New York native and Fleet Mail Center Yokohama Leading Chief Petty Officer for NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, clears trash and debris as well as pulls overgrown vegetation and weeds at Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery.
“The chief’s community has a long history of selfless service and for our chief selects, understanding that history is essential,” said Capt. Raymond Bichard, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, commanding officer. “The time they spent at the cemetery speaks a lot about their character and how important it was for them to honor their host-nation of Japan in this way and really put their hands and hearts into something pretty special.”
After all, it was a U.S. naval officer, Commodore Mathew Perry, who sailed his black ships to Japan in 1853 and opened up the country from its strict isolationism, which was enforced for more than 200 years under the Tokugawa Shogun-ate and had kept Japan off-limits to the rest of the world.
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CMC Edwin Purdy addresses Chief Selects after aiding the historic cemetery’s upkeep.
However, with the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Peace and Amity signing in 1854, the sleepy fishing village would turn into a cosmopolitan port city welcoming many foreign merchants, engineers, teachers and others from many walks of life, which would turn the city on the bay into a melting pot.
It was a tree lined plot of land on the bluff that would serve as the final resting place for those earlier settlers and it is a group of logistics Sailors from NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka who have taken on the task of aiding this historic cemetery’s upkeep today.
“This means a lot,” said Chief Logistics Specialist (Select) Kasey Waldron, a Bronx, New York native and Fleet Mail Center Yokohama leading chief petty officer for NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka. “It’s what we are supposed to do in the hopes that when our time comes that they’ll be doing this for us, it’s a part of our heritage...a part of us.”
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Command Master Chief Edwin Purdy, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, pulls weeds alongside the command’s Chief Selects.
Waldron added that a U.S. Marine who had died during Commodore Perry’s second trip back to Japan in 1854 was buried at the very cemetery the chief selects were volunteering in, adding, “we are paying our dues to those who came before us, it’s what we are supposed to do, keeping our naval heritage alive.”
“These Sailors actions here today showed great credit upon themselves as future chief petty officers and keeps in line with the great naval traditions of the chief’s mess,” said Command Master Chief Edwin Purdy, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, command master chief.