In this file photo, children from the Shunko Gakuen Orphanage look over the side of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a tour of the ship. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Ryan McFarlane)

WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN - The Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and its Sailors received the Zenkokai Associaton Award for work in the local community, during a ceremony at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, May 20.

Three Ronald Reagan Sailors attended the ceremony on behalf of the ship's crew and Commanding Officer (CO) Capt. Buzz Donnelly, as the ship is currently on patrol in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

Master Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman (AW/SW) Josh Turner, from Shelby, North Carolina; Information Systems Technician 1st Class (IW/SW/AW) Shantay Beane, from Dallas; and Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (AW) Justin Shumaker, from Coates, North Carolina, attended the ceremony to receive the award.

"It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of the CO and the ship," said Turner. "We certainly enjoyed being a part of the ceremony."

Since 1951, The Nippon Zenkokai, or The Good Conduct Association of Japan, an independent, non-profit organization, has been recognizing individuals and groups for significant contributions to the Japanese community. In 1955, the award was expanded to honor foreigners who have contributed to the betterment of life in Japan.

"Serving the community plays a vital role in maintaining and strengthening our ties with our gracious hosts here in Japan," said Turner.

Cmdr. David Yang, Ronald Reagan's command chaplain, explained what this award means to the command.

"Our Sailors certainly didn't conduct numerous community service projects in order to receive recognition, but it is indeed special to receive this award from the host nation of Japan for the contribution Reagan has made for the betterment of life in Japan," said Yang. "This award only motivates our command to do more in service for our community."

While Ronald Reagan was the only winner recognized as a command, other winners included groups and individuals from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Ikego Detachment; Yokota Air Base; Carrier Air Wing 5; and various ships and tenant commands from the area.

"Seeing how many service members were in attendance receiving awards, really stood out to me as an example of just how much the local community appreciates when we engage with them," said Turner.

USS Ronald Reagan is the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier and is the flagship carrier of Carrier Strike Group 5, providing assistance to allies in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region.