YOKOSUKA, Japan – With colored lights strung throughout the ship, USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) welcomed aboard carolers from Ikego Elementary School for a morning of Christmas cheer. The first and second graders led the crew in traditional songs and taught them how to say, “Merry Christmas,” in different languages. After the carols, the children enjoyed cookies and took pictures with crew members.
Many members of Fitzgerald’s crew spent the day sharing their Christmas spirit with children at Kugo Hokuyen. The Sailors played with the children, made crafts, and shared their Christmas traditions and memories. When caroling time came, Sailors sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and were treated to the Japanese version of the song sung by the children. As a special surprise, Santa Claus made an appearance to hand out presents to the boys and girls of Kugo Hokuyen.
Electronics Technician 1st Class Anjanette Rohde, who helped plan the trip, commented, “All had a great time and the children were brilliant.”
“It was a great pleasure to welcome the carolers aboard and to be able to send Fitzgerald Sailors to Kugo Hokuyen to help celebrate,” remarked CDR Dennis Velez, Commanding Officer of USS Fitzgerald. “Sharing Christmas with the children of the community is a wonderful experience.”
Fitzgerald is the 12th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan as part of Destroyer Squadron 15 and U.S. 7th Fleet.