319 ERS transitions away from Kanoya community

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Nathan Allen
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron ceremonially bid “sayonara” to Kanoya Air Base, Japan, recently, marking the conclusion of the latest chapter in its history.  

The ceremony, attended by distinguished members of the community and 374th Airlift Wing leaders, served as a reflection on the squadron's contributions to the local community and its mission of promoting peace and bolstering the U.S.-Japan alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Col. Jun Oh, 374th Operations Group commander, emphasized the enduring partnership between the 319th ERS, Kanoya Air Base and the local community while expressing gratitude for the support and collaboration that took place.  

“The U.S., Japan alliance has long been a cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. “We have not only reaffirmed our commitment to this alliance but have also taken concrete steps to strengthen it. In our time here, we have enhanced our ability to work seamlessly together to ensure our mutual cooperation and security commitment. 

Oh also commended the operational impact of the deployment including the establishment of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Intelligence Analysis Cell back at Yokota Air Base.   

This collaborative effort enabled critical, seamless intelligence sharing between the allied counterparts. The synergy improved situational awareness and strengthened trust and cooperation between the nations. 

“This initiative demonstrates our commitment to collaboration, information sharing, shared understanding of the security challenges we face, and will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on our collective security efforts in the region.  Through this cell, we’ve learned the value of combining our strengths, intelligence, and expertise to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Oh. “And the 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and the MQ-9s played an integral part in providing the necessary intelligence required by the cell.” 

Lt. Col. Alexander Kelly, 319th ERS commander, expressed appreciation for the support of Fleet Air Wing 1 and Kanoya Air Base, highlighting the squadron's connections within the local community and cultural exchanges that defined their time in the area. 

“We had plenty of challenges along the way. Our perseverance and the ability to overcome each challenge is a testament to the quality of personnel we have here,” he said. “We have learned a lot from our shared training, exercises and experiences, and we will leave here with many lessons learned. The city welcomed us with open arms and treated us like family. We have many friends in the community, and we had the honor of experiencing the joy of the Japanese culture and traditions in our day-to-day lives.” 

Throughout their presence, 319th ERS Airmen actively participated in community initiatives and philanthropic endeavors, including donations to local orphanages and welfare associations, English teaching sessions, and environmental initiatives such as beach clean-ups and river restorations.  

Furthermore, the squadron fostered cultural exchanges such as the Cherry Blossom Festival and the first-ever “Trunk or Treat” event designed to celebrate U.S. traditions with local children during Halloween.  

Professionally, their collaboration with their Japan counterparts underscored their commitment to building enduring relationships on diplomatic, cultural, and military fronts, strengthening the foundation for enduring cooperation between the squadron, base, and city.