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CHIPS Articles: U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East Sailors and Civilians Test Endurance on Mount Fuji

U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East Sailors and Civilians Test Endurance on Mount Fuji
By Lt. j.g. Duc H. Nguyen - August 10, 2016
YOKOSUKA, Japan – A small group of Sailors, civilians and family members from U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Far East stormed to the summit of Mount Fuji during a command team-building event to increase morale, camaraderie, and esprit de corps Aug. 1.

Mount Fuji is an active volcano and one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains.” It is also the highest mountain in Japan extending 12,388 feet to the sky.

Mount Fuji has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site, a status earned in June 2013. Each year more than 300,000 people make the ascent to the top of the sacred mountain, nearly all make the climb during the official climbing season in July and August.

Mount Fuji's unique symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs.

For the 27 personnel from NCTS Far East who participated in the climb, their day started early at 1:30 a.m. to prepare for the mental and physical challenges ahead. The weather was forecasted to be overcast with a high chance of rain. Each participant brought provisions, including change of clothes and plentiful amounts of water, sunscreen, and trail snacks for energy.

“I’ve waited 20 years for this opportunity to climb Fuji-san,” said Jeffery Norman, an IT specialist working within the Theater Network Operations and Security Center. “I’m super excited and can’t wait to make it to the summit.”

As the bus approached the rest station where NCTS Far East would start their climb they could see the thick fog embracing the base of the mountain foreshadowing a potentially wet day.

NCTS Far East approached the climbing trail via the Yoshida Trail from Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station. This trail is the most popular of the four available to the summit; 136,587 people made the climb in summer 2015 from this trail.

Yoshida initially offers a steady and flat incline to the 7th station where it quickly transitions to a steep and rocky path the rest of the way to the summit.

Climbers can purchase walking sticks at the base station and earn special stamps that are branded onto the sticks to mark their accomplishments as they progress to the summit.

“The stamps are a great incentive to climb further to the top of Fuji-san,” said Information Systems Technician Third Class Thomas Trujillo. “I’ve made it my personal goal to collect every stamp to the top. I suppose you could say that some people climb for the stamps and Fuji-san just happens to be in the way.”

Located at the summit is a Shinto Shrine dedicated to Shinto goddess, Sengen-sama. For centuries many travelers have worshipped and offered up prayers upon reaching the summit to Sengen-sama.

Quickly becoming a tradition is for travelers to enjoy a savory bowl of ramen and a few other delectable dishes at an eatery before they start their return journey to the base of the mountain.

Many expect that the quest to the top of Fuji-san would be the most difficult part; however, the path to the bottom is considered by many as the most challenging. The route back toward the 5th station presents fatigued adventurers with a steep switch-back trail with many loose and unforgiving rocks.

The climb was dedicated to Shinsen Children’s Home, a school and orphanage that NCTS Far East has sponsored since 1998. In May 2016, NCTS Far East, commanded by Capt. Matthew H. Welsh, was awarded the Zenkokai Award for significant contributions for the betterment of relationships and strong ties with Japan. NCTS Far East was presented with the Zenkokai Award in 2000, 2013 and 2014.

Lt. j.g. Duc Nguyen is the deputy director, Theater Network Operations and Security Center, U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Far East.

Left to right, Ron, son of Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Rafael Mendez, Information Systems Technician Third Class Thomas Trujillo, and Lt. j.g. Duc Nguyen pose beneath a Tori Gate at the 8th Station on Mount Fuji.
Left to right, Ron, son of Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Rafael Mendez, Information Systems Technician Third Class Thomas Trujillo, and Lt. j.g. Duc Nguyen pose beneath a Tori Gate at the 8th Station on Mount Fuji.

Lt. j.g. Duc H. Nguyen at the summit of Mount Fuji.
Lt. j.g. Duc H. Nguyen at the summit of Mount Fuji.
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