Japan / Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni / News Stories

Chaplains heal, sooth suffering with tunes

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan  — Lt. Cmdr. Juan Cometa, station chaplain, and Lt. Anthony Baker, chaplain with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, performed a musical concert for patients, families and caretakers at the Nishi Hiroshima Hospital in Otake July 21.

The concert was a part of a community relations activity, coordinated by Cometa, Baker, and the hospital administrator, who served as an interpreter.

The concert allowed the chaplains to share their musical talents as well as their love for gospel music with local Japanese hospital patients.

“It’s spiritually rewarding to see patients being ministered to by songs,” said Cometa. “Their faces just beam with joy.”

Some of the patients watched the one-hour performance from wheel chairs while others were bedridden and placed where they could hear the music.

Many of the patients were long-term quadriplegic patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and myasthenia syndrome.

“Some of the patients are bedridden, but when we ended the songs, they expressed their excitement the best they could,” said Baker. “We knew that what we were doing had an impact.”

Cometa and Baker took turns performing before an audience of approximately 80 people with personal instruments and equipment provided by the hospital.

“There was a piano there and a little karaoke machine,” said Baker. “They just let us go to town.”

Cometa performed instrumental piano songs as well as songs with his guitar and four-string ukulele.

“I am more of a pianist, actually,” said Cometa. “I play guitar, too, but I am more comfortable and enjoy playing on piano.”

Baker also stood up in front of the crowd to perform a few gospel songs on his guitar for the patients.

“It’s amazing to find that Japanese nationals know gospel songs like Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art,” said Cometa. “They sang the songs from the heart.”

A few members of the audience also requested American songs during the concert, including “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a song originally written and performed by American country singer John Denver.

“I was surprised when they requested Country Roads,” said Cometa.

Cometa and Baker received a lot of positive feedback from their audience at the end of the concert.

Originally published: Marines.mil

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