YOKOSUKA, Japan — The 2017 Operation Appreciation tour is off and running as the team visits military installations in Japan for the first time. Summit Racing Equipment and Armed Forces Entertainment have banded together once again to bring a bit of home to those on post by sending a roster of Motorsports champions to meet the troops. The group once again includes Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock world champions Greg Anderson and Jason Line; recently crowned 2017 Harley-Davidson Vance & Hines NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec and his teammate, five-time NHRA series titlist Andrew Hines, and champion BIGFOOT 4×4® Monster Truck drivers Dan Runte and Larry Swim.

On the first day of the trip, the group visited Yokosuka Naval Base, a historic installation that was built in 1870 and fosters strong partnerships between fleet activities, the city of Yokosuka, and the Japanese community.

This year’s journey overseas to connect with members of the U.S. Armed Forces in a show of gratitude marks the 10th consecutive tour for Line, who served in the Air Force prior to his career as a professional NHRA drag racer.

“The Operation Appreciation tour is something that I’m very proud and honored to be part of, and this year is special to me because it’s my tenth time making the trip. GM started this whole thing, and Fred Simmonds, who used to work with GM, knew I was prior military and asked me to go. Of course I said yes, and I’ve never regretted it for a minute.

Every trip has been great, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. The first was to Kuwait and Germany, and Operation Appreciation has taken us to many places since then. It’s been a surreal experience, and certainly eye-opening each time.

What I like best about it is that we have the opportunity to at least try to give something back to the folks who make it possible for us to live in a free country and do what we do. This is my first time in Japan. It’s very pretty here, and it is very different from anywhere I’ve ever been. Although it’s a new group of folks guiding us through the process, they’ve really done a great job.

Today we went to Yokosuka Naval Base, and it is a very different environment than the bases we’ve been to in Kuwait the last couple of years. It’s still a restricted military base, but in comparison to where we’ve been, it feels very laid back. It’s neat because many people stationed here have their families with them, so there is a different feeling across the base. It feels more like home, and some of these men and women have been here for a long time. They all have very good things to say about living here, and I think that says a lot about the base itself and about Japan.

Everyone was very welcoming to us today when we visited the Galley during lunch, had a meet and greet at the Navy Exchange, and then finished the day with a nice dinner at the Officer’s Club.

The Galley is called Jewel of the East, and it is the #1-rated Galley eight-years running across all forms of U.S. Military across the world. The food lived up to expectations, and the people who worked there were great, too, including the Japanese contractors who were very friendly and seemed happy to meet us. After lunch, we had the chance to meet folks as they came in or left after their midday meal, and it was a good chance to hear a little about what they do there.

There were some unexpected shifts in our schedule, as can happen, and so our MWR guide, Nicole, took us to see the Great Buddha at Kamakura. It’s a very large bronze statue that was built in 1252. It was really pretty cool from an engineering standpoint, especially because it was built so long ago. The design that went into that, and the way it was built, was unbelievable. You realize what a sacred place it is when you’re there, and we all knew that it was important to be respectful of that and of the Japanese culture. It was an amazing experience, and we learned a lot. There is a lot about Japan that I didn’t know before coming here, but I’m learning more every day.

After we saw the Great Buddha, we returned to the base for a meet and greet at the Navy Exchange. That was neat because there were a lot of kids who showed up for this one, and they were really excited – more excited than anybody.

Even though things didn’t go quite as planned today according to the schedule, we all know we have to be fluid and respectful of the mission. We’re just happy to be here to bring a little bit of home to the troops.”

The first day of the Summit Racing-sponsored Armed Forces Entertainment-organized Operation Appreciation tour brought the team to Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

In their first visit with troops in Japan, Team Summit started with a meet and greet at the Jewel of the East Galley on Yokosuka Naval Base.

A great turnout at the award-winning Jewel of the East Galley during lunch hour at Yokosuka.

There are many Japanese contractors working alongside U.S. Armed Forces at Yokosuka, and one of the Japanese kitchen staff at the Galley was excited to have his motorcycle helmet signed by Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec.

Before departing on the train to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura between visits with the troops on base, the team stopped for a photo op outside of the station.

On board the train to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha.

Visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura was an honor for Team Summit, who generally don’t do much sight-seeing off-base during Operation Appreciation.

The Naval Exchange hosted a meet and greet to finish the day at Yokosuka, and dependent children of active duty troops were excited to meet the drivers.



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Author: Kelly Wade