USFJ, 374th leaders thank Kanoya team, local leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Spencer Tobler
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

United States Forces Japan and 374th Airlift Wing command teams visited Kanoya Air Base, Japan, to acknowledge the Airmen of the 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and meet with the Kanoya city mayor, Shigeru Nakanishi, April 10.

The meeting with the mayor served to strengthen the positive relationship between the Kanoya community and personnel of the 319th ERS, who began operating there October 23, 2022. 

“The MQ-9’s placement in Kanoya is strategically very important and the success of the deployment so far is thanks to the Airmen of the 319 ERS,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, USFJ and 5th Air Force commander. “The support from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has helped us tremendously, undoubtedly due to the hospitality of the people of Kanoya, thanks to the leadership of Mayor Nakanishi.”

During the visit, USFJ and 374th AW command teams also met with JMSDF Rear Admiral Naochika Fujiwara, Fleet Air Wing One commander, who expressed gratitude for the mutual exchanges the 319th ERS has experienced with JMSDF personnel.

“We are glad our Airmen have cultivated a positive environment and left a strong impression on JMSDF and the Kanoya community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Andrew Roddan, 374th AW commander. “The community has welcomed us with open arms and because of our partnership, the Airmen here have been able to make exponential progress for us in the Indo-Pacific.”

Rupp and Roddan also held a luncheon with Airmen of the 319th ERS. Here, they took a moment to recognize Airmen for their hard work and learned more about the Airmen’s volunteer efforts outside of their primary duties. Many spoke of spending time at local orphanages, hosting weekly English classes for children with disabilities, and organizing donations for the Kanoya Welfare Association.

“We have a great group of Airmen representing us here,” said Roddan. “They have a lot weighing on their shoulders, but they still find time to uplift the local community.”

To cap off the visit, the team met with Kanoya community leaders for a chance to express their gratitude once again.

“The positive impact the Airmen are having on the Kanoya community is apparent when I hear so many incredible stories from the community leaders,” said Rupp. “This unit is not only successfully carrying out their mission, but they are also furthering our US-Japan Alliance for all of us stationed in Japan. I could not be prouder.”