Story by MC3 Samuel Bacon, Naval Air Facility Misawa
SAPPORO, Japan – Eleven Sailors assigned to U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa and its tenant commands arrived in Sapporo, Japan, on Jan. 28 to begin work on a Navy-themed snow statue for the 70th annual Sapporo Snow Festival, marking the Navy’s 36th year of participation.
More than two million visitors attend the Sapporo Snow Festival annually to marvel at the large snow statues built by teams from all over Japan and dozens of countries.
Navy Sailors from Misawa work together on a tight deadline and through tough weather conditions to create a Navy inspired statue.
This year, the Sailors will create a replica of the United States Navy Official Seal; an eagle standing guard over an anchor at rest. Previous works have included many famous U.S. Navy icons and symbols such as a replica of the Lone Sailor statue, the Fighting Bees Seabees logo, and the ship USS Constitution.
“We’re looking at a challenge,” commented Chief Builder Frank Ring, a native of Greensboro, N.C., and this year’s Snow Team leader. “Previous years were simpler statues and designs with not quite as much detail. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but it will be a great experience for everyone involved.”
The Sailors selected for the team were chosen because of their superior work performance and dedication to the U.S. Navy both on- and off-duty. Many were also selected for awards such as “Sailor of the Year” at their commands.
This year’s Navy Snow team includes Snow Team lead Chief Builder Frank Ring, Chief Construction Mechanic Chris Norris, Builder 1st Class Jenny Cunningham, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Tom Yokoi, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class Mondeshalyn Gordon, Information Systems Technician 3rd class Sean Ingraham, Yeoman 2nd Class Zachary Sakuda, Builder 3rd Class Kyle Antrobus, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Bacon, Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Unique McCants and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jan David Mercado.
“Before coming to Japan, I researched events all across Japan, and the Sapporo Snow Festival was one of the events that really caught my eye,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class Mondeshalyn Gordon, a native of Douglasville, Ga. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that affords myself and other Sailors the opportunity to engage with people from all over the world, and I’m really looking forward to representing the United States Navy in Japan.”
The team is scheduled to complete the snow sculpture by Feb. 3, spending the remainder of their time in Sapporo meeting and interacting with the estimated two million visitors anticipated at Snow Festival this year.