Colonel Matthew W. Tracy’s eyes widened with excitement and a big smile appeared on his face when the principal of a Nago City kindergarten visited him on March 1.

The reason for her smile was due to receiving a muuchii gift from the kindergarten children. Muuchii is a traditional Okinawan rice snack wrapped in a ginger leaf and usually eaten on Muuchii lunar calendar day.

The preschool principal thanked Tracy, camp commandant for Camp Schwab and commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, for playing with the preschool children. He brought homemade muuchii kneaded by the older children mixed with pumpkins and purple sweet potatoes, also baked red sweet potatoes and several other items along with a letter of appreciation.

One of the items brought by the principal had a design printed with the logo of the preschool and the logo of the 4th Marine Regiment. Tracy observed the object carefully and showed her interest in Okinawan culture when she found a small animal on it. As the commandant of Camp Schwab, Tracy learned about Okinawan culture and important animals.

“Is it a dugong? Tracy asked.

Tracy paid attention to design details and gave everyone a story about the dugong. He, as the president of his son’s lacrosse league, had named all the teams with important animals in Okinawa, and the name of his son’s lacrosse team is Dugong. He even made a team jersey with a big dugong pattern on it.

“I told my son that the dugong is the most important marine mammal in Okinawa.” He was aware of the importance of the dugong to Okinawa. His son did not know the animal and he looked for it.

“No kid knew animals,” Tracy said. There are four elementary teams, three middle and two high schools. In addition to the dugong, he named each team after endangered animals or culturally significant creatures, such as Fighting Rail for “Okinawa Rail or Yanbaru-Kuina”, Redbelly Newt for “Shiriken Imori “, Lionfish for “Mino-Kasago”, Shrieking Shrew for “Senkaku Mogura”, Shisa for “Okinawa Guardian Lion Dog, or Shishi Dog”, Inoshishi for “Ryukyu Wild Boar”, High Flying Fox for “Okinawa Oo-Komori” and Habu for “Hubu – poisonous snake from Okinawa”.

His intention to change the names of the teams was to focus on community, conservation, ecology of Okinawa, as well as culture. Tracy later explained that he wanted people to be more interested and excited about being in Okinawa and to cross the cultural line.

Tracy, his wife and a few Marines visited the preschool as part of Camp Schwab’s “Let’s Play With English” program last year and presented Christmas gifts supported by the Camp Schwab USO, a nonprofit organization. non-profit that provides various support services to members in the United States. Armed forces — to children. They were excited, and the principal wanted to show Tracy and her Marines his deep appreciation for the goodwill and generosity to the children.

The principal explained that Tracy not only made the children smile and impressed them, but also cheered them up by spending time with them. “We appreciate their help in developing children’s strength in life through personal interaction,” the director said.

When the director asked about closer interaction in the future with Camp Schwab, Tracy responded by saying he would like to have many years of interaction and build a strong relationship.

Date taken: 05.09.2022
Date posted: 26.05.2022 23:23
Story ID: 421549
Location: OKINAWA, JP

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