By Lt.j.g. Alec ‘Radio’ Verone, VP-45 Public Affairs Officer
KADENA, Japan (Dec. 19, 2012) – Sailors from the “World Famous Pelicans” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 and the “Red Lancers” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 10 participated in the annual Christmas gift exchange between Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa and Sailors from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) at White Beach in Okinawa, Japan.
Each year the two organizations exchange traditional American and Okinawan Christmas decorations with the JMSDF receiving a Christmas tree in exchange for a set of kadomatsu — Japanese ornaments made from bamboo and pine boughs.
The event was hosted by the JMSDF and included a Mochi Pounding. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. While eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year.
Parachute Rigger Petty Officer Second Class Nichole Oveido from Los Angeles, California was particularly impressed with the Japanese hospitality and closing ceremony where all the participants clapped in unison to symbolize bringing good fortune for all in the New Year.
“It was very interesting and the Japanese were extremely friendly”, remarked Petty Officer Oveido. “Making the mochi cakes was very similar to my family tradition of making pupusas.” Experiencing foreign cultures sometimes doesn’t seem so foreign after all.
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the “Pelicans” and “Red Lancers” are currently on a six-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility as part of Commander Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Seventh Fleet.