SAPPORO, Japan – After fours days of enduring sub-freezing temperatures and driving snow, the Navy Misawa Snow Sculpture Team completed its “Lone Sailor” sculpture, Feb. 4, 2012, just in time for the 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival here.
February 4, 2012 - The 2012 Navy Misawa Snow Sculpture Team was, from left, Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Zachary James, Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Trevor Teschel, Electronics Technician 2nd Class James Johnston, Chief Builder Christopher "Billy" Knox, Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Alvin Zuilan, and Seaman Herschel Moore. The team traveled from Naval Air Facility Misawa to Sapporo in order to build "The Lone Sailor" snow sculpture, and also to represent the base during the 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival. This is the 29th year Navy Misawa has sent a team to take part in this festival. Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford
The six–man team, comprised of sailors assigned to Naval Air Facility Misawa or one of its tenant or deployed commands, worked diligently through the week to create the sculpture from nothing more than a six-foot-by-six-foot block of compressed snow – give or take a few inches.
“The block's measurement weren't quite as advertised,” said Snow Team Leader Christopher “Billy” Knox, who sketched out the intended design on graph paper prior to arriving in Sapporo. “Transferring the sketched draft of the Lone Sailor from graph paper to the block was a bit of a challenge because we had to make adjustments on the fly. But once we made compensations for its actual size, it was easy to chalk up some proportionate graphing lines.”
Following the tedious process of measuring and drawing out equally distanced horizontal and vertical lines, the team used the lines to draw out the design on the snow using markers. Upon completion, the team began to sculpt.
Carefully sheering away excess snow and ice, it wasn't long before a Navy white hat began to take shape.
“Once we got an idea of how it would all look, we started chipping away and eventually began making some headway,” said Cryptologic Technician Collection Seaman Herschel Moore, a native of Bandera, Texas, and snow team member. “I think the biggest challenge arrived when we had to make the face. Ensuring the face and ears were even on both sides took some effort.”
Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Zachary James said his biggest challenge was working in the Sapporo weather.
“The cold,” said the Seattle native. “Out here in the elements, eight hours at a time, it can take its toll. You're dealing with frozen hands, frozen toes, but we're dressed warm and in layers so it hasn't been very detrimental”
By the end of the first day, a human form began to take shape, and with every subsequent day, remarkable progress was made before the team retired each night.
“The team's performance has been outstanding,” said Knox, who originally hails from Chapin, Ill. “They are extremely motivated; a lot of heart-and-soul went into this whole project,”
The team's prodigious effort also drew an audience of onlookers each day. Team members were inundated with questions and photo requests, which they were always willing to provide with a smile.
“The fellas love interacting with the locals that passed by each day,” said Knox. “Many of the spectators were very curious about what we were making, where the original “Lone Sailor” is located, and the overall meaning of it. It may have slowed down our progress some, but getting the opportunity to interact with the Japanese people is the most gratifying part of this whole project.”
In fact, every member of the team seemed enamored with Sapporo and its citizens.
“The city has been amazing,” said Moore. “The people are so nice and kind, they go out of their way to make you feel welcome.”
Which may be the reason Knox decided to add a late addition to the sculpture's base. On the final day of sculpting, Knox added a small display made of snow just underneath the sculpture's chin. On it, he carved out the Japanese Kanji symbol for friendship: “tomodachi.”
“We may not speak the same language, but I think we understand the important relationship we share with each other," said Knox. “We want the locals who come out and see the sculpture to know that our hearts and friendship is here with it. We're happy to live and serve in Japan.”
This is the 29th year that Navy Misawa has sent a delegation of sailors to Sapporo to build a sculpture and represent the base during the festival. The 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival runs from Feb. 6-12, 2012.
By Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford
Naval Air Facility Misawa
Provided through DVIDS
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