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Yokota dedicates Cherry Blossom Trees
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Colonel Otto Feather, 374th Airlift Wing commander, (left) with Toshiko Aoki-san and Maj. Gen. Sam Angelella, 5th Air Force vice commander, water a cherry blossom tree during the dedication ceremony held outside the Officers' Club here, Nov. 10. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)
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40-year Yokota employee dedicates Cherry Blossom Trees

Posted 11/12/2010   Updated 11/14/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca
374th Airlift Wing

11/12/2010 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- As a way to celebrate the continuous commitment of one individual, two cherry blossom trees were planted during a cherry blossom tree dedication ceremony held outside Yokota's Officers' Club, here Nov. 10.

The two trees were dedicated to the lasting partnership between Japan and the United States and to Toshiko Aoki-san, who has been working for Yokota Air Base since 1970.

It was her generous donation of the two trees that made the event possible.

Aoki-san decided to donate the two trees after the original cherry blossom tree died back in April.

The original cherry blossom tree at the Officers' Club was planted and dedicated on Arbor Day, 18 April 1986, to Col. Gordon Wohlfeil, 475th Air Base Wing commander, Yokota Air Base, Japan, by the Santama Lions club, now the Yokota Lions Club.  Aoki-san, who has been working as an AAFES barber for 59 years, said she wanted to plant the trees as a way to symbolize the Japanese community at the Officers' Club.

The Cherry Blossom tree has been a symbol of good fortune and life. Col. Otto Feather, the 374th Airlift Wing commander said that the cherry blossom tree symbolizes the larger cycles of relationships and human life in general.

He continued, "The seasonal flowering of these trees has come to symbolize the cycle of life, and the promise of regeneration."

Aoki-san has become a permanent fixture in the Yokota community.

"Seldom are we honored with the presence of a person who has touched the lives of so many, for so many seasons. As many of you have seen, the wall of her shop is covered with the pictures of great leaders who've commanded here at Yokota. But, the fabric of Yokota is not woven by warriors alone," said Colonel Feather. "Indeed, Yokota's community is greatly enriched by the long history of Aoki-san's dedicated service."

He continued, "Aoki-san, your generosity of spirit is an inspiration to us all."

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