NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – For some Sailors coming to Japan climbing Mount Fuji, the highest peak on the island of Honshu, is near the top of a list of things to do.
Beginning in early November 2013, Liberty Center Coordinators from all around Japan came together and began planning for their most ambitious trip yet; a climb to the summit of Mount Fuji.
August 2, 2014 - Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Villegas and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Graham, both of Commander, Fleet Activities Sasabo, begin their climb up Mount Fuji as part of the bi-annual All-Japan Liberty climb. The initiative aims to build camaraderie and a sense of community for junior Sailors stationed in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan G. Greene)
“For me, I couldn't be more excited about getting to host this trip,” said Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Liberty Center Event Coordinator Jay Mozilo. “This is the second trip and because the first was such a success, we've decided to go ahead and try it again. This trip we had around 150 Sailors total from seven different installations, and with such a large number of participants, planning for lodging, feeding and moving that many bodies causes quite the logistical headache.”
Fortunately for Mozilo he wasn't alone, with an army of more than 25 volunteers, Liberty Centers all around Japan have worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip for everyone.
“I was really excited to come to Okinawa and to see all that Japan had to offer,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jazmyn Hollis, of Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa Naval Station White Beach. “But, I was upset to find out that because of the liberty policy, getting out to see much of the country wouldn't really be possible. That's why I jumped at the chance to climb Fuji, it's been my dream.”
At 3:30 a.m. Aug. 2, 2014 the Sailors and Marines who were taking part in the largest pan-Japanese Liberty event left from NAF Atsugi and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) and made their way up to the fifth station to begin their hike up Mount Fuji.
“I honestly slept the whole way here, but now that I'm standing here looking up, I'm kind of nervous,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Justin Gilmore, of NAF Atsugi. “I really wasn't thinking of just how big Fuji is. Now that I'm here, it's pretty imposing.”
Gilmore wasn't the only one feeling the pre-climb jitters, several in the crowd discussed the choice of returning to the busses and giving up the climb.
When it came time to start the climb at least one member of the climbing team had chosen to sit it out and instead chose to wait for their companions at the 5th Station.
For the rest of the team, the climb began with relative ease, quickly climbing to above 2,400 meters.
For the roughly 150 Sailors who took part in the climb, almost all made it to the mountain summit and earned their coveted red stamp.
Airman Cole Voeller, of Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, stops to take a picture during the second bi-annual All-Japan Liberty climb up Mount Fuji on August 2, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan G. Greene)
“This has been such a crazy experience,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eric Mosey, of Branch Health Clinic Sasabo. “I did not anticipate that summiting Mount Fuji was going to be so difficult, especially around 8th Station. But, it was an absolute blast and I cannot wait to do this again next year.”
From Sailors who tried to leapfrog up the mountain and those who slid face first down the mountainside, few came off Fuji with anything on their minds other than when they could do it again.
“This was amazing, it was a perfect day and I'm honestly so glad that I decided to climb Fuji,” said Airman Cole Voeller, of NAF Atsugi. “I wish we had done these every year, I'll only be here for one more year and I'd love to go again with all the friends I've made from around Japan.”
By U.S. Navy MCS3C Ryan G. Greene
Provided through DVIDS
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