Seabees Participate in 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan

By MCCS Daniel Sanford, NAF Misawa Public Affairs

NAF Misawa prepares for participation in 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival

Members of the Naval Air Facility Misawa Snow Team pose with the Seabee design they plan to sculpt out of snow at the upcoming 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan. Photo by MCCS Daniel Sanford

Seven Sailors, including Seabees, forward deployed to U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa and its tenant commands, will soon take part in the 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan.

The team, nicknamed the “Sapporo Seven,” will represent NAF Misawa and build a snow sculpture on behalf of the command. This year also marks the 31st anniversary of Misawa Sailors participating in the festival, which draws about two million spectators each year.

In recent years, the Misawa Sailors have sculpted giant anchors, a replica of “The Lone Sailor” sculpture, and a frosty facsimile of USS George Washington (CVN 73). Next week, the Sapporo Seven will travel to Sapporo to build something even more ambitious.

“We’re going to build the famous U.S. Navy Seabee logo: ‘The Fighting Bee,’ said BUC Billy Harger, a native of Pearl City, Hawaii, and this year’s team leader. “I think this is a great sculpture to attempt for the 65th Annual Sapporo Snow Festival and a cool way for our team to honor my fellow Seabees who will be celebrating the 72nd anniversary of their creation, March 5th.”

The team will depart Misawa next week, and have only a few days to build the sculpture in time for the festival’s kickoff, Feb. 5. Adding to the challenge is that all of the Festival’s team members originally hail from warm weather states, and none of them have any previous snow sculpture experience. But this does not faze Harger and his team.

“The U.S. Navy Seabee philosophy is ‘Can Do,’ and we certainly will do,” said Harger, assigned to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East Detachment Misawa. “Regardless of our experience, the extreme weather, or any other deterrent we might face, the team will create this sculpture on time for all festival goers to enjoy.”

While in Sapporo, the Sapporo Seven will once again be hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members at Camp Sapporo. NAF Misawa and Camp Sapporo have an ongoing relationship that has grown even closer in recent years, with both commands hosting bilateral events for the other.

“I’m really looking forward to staying at Camp Sapporo while we take part in the festival,” said MC3 Erin Devenberg. “I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the Camp Sapporo hospitality.  I can’t wait to have the opportunity to interact with the [Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force], and help enhance our services’ great friendship.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring a little piece of the U.S. Navy to a part of Japan that isn’t exposed to it very often,” said Harger.  “Sapporo is such a wonderful city, and we’re honored to represent the U.S. Navy and our respective commands during this festival.”

Along with Harger and Devenberg, the Sapporo Seven is also comprised of CT2 Alexianna Morton, Navy Information Operations Command Misawa; IT2 Justin Cable,  Commander, Task Force 72; ASE2 Christopher Dorrough, Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department Misawa; UTCN Ariel Hogue, NAVFAC Far East Detachment Misawa; and MNSN Andrew Handley, Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division Unit Misawa.

To follow the progress of the Sapporo Seven or to set up an interview with the team, please follow the Naval Air Facility Misawa Facebook page at

See the completed “Fighting Bee” here:

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