Yokota C-130Js Demonstrate New Refueling Capabilities


Yokota C-130Js Demonstrate New Refueling Capabilities


C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron have exercised a new refueling capability during exercise COPE NORTH 2018 (CN18) at Tinian U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Feb. 26.

The Helicopter Expedient Refuel System (HERS) allows the 36 AS C-130s the rapid deployment of refueling assets in an austere environment, enabling other aircraft to continue their humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

“The idea is to able to bring in fuel, drop it off, store it temporarily and put it on different aircraft as a sort of in-the-field staging of refueling capabilities,” said Capt. Andrew Kochman, 36th Mobility Response Squadron assistant director of operations.

With a maximum capacity of 3,000 gallons, the HERS enables the C-130J to quickly unload part of its own fuel to be used on other aircraft.

“We build our fuel bladder, our pumps and everything that we need to begin refueling out on the field,” said Kochman. “After, we take on fuel from our source, in this case a C-130J, into the equipment that we brought up with us. Once we have completed that task, we are ready to start pushing gas to whoever needs it.”

During a HA/DR scenario, the HERS allows the Airmen to quickly refuel other aircraft, not just Air Force assets.

“For this exercise, we had a U.S. Navy helicopter come in and we were able to refuel it, so we are able to work not with just Air Force assets but really throughout our whole military,” said Kochman. “Those helicopters, their mission is search and rescue and they might not be able to refuel if they needed a hard-fixed asset [traditional fixed fuel source]. Being able to refuel them out in the field and have them continue their operations just makes us that much more successful in conducting our HA/DR operations.”

Through the practice of this new capability, it ensures the U.S. Military and allied partners participating in CN18 are prepared for any possible real-world HA/DR scenarios in the future.

“By coming here and staying current on this new capability, learning new techniques, testing new equipment, and seeing how much flexibility we have with all of these operations, we become a significantly more proficient unit,” said Kochman. “It’s also important for our international partners to be able to see how these operations work and understand how they can have a role in it as well, both with us and on their own in the future.”


Operation Christmas Drop


Operation Christmas Drop



Operation Christmas Drop showcases HA/DR Training



Andersen AFB, Guam  -- U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules crews from Yokota Air Base, Japan, launched the final missions of Operation Christmas Drop 2015, Dec. 15,  officially completing this year's operation with 100 percent of bundles on target.

Since Dec. 8, C-130 crews from Yokota's 36th Airlift Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force worked together on humanitarian aid/disaster relief training while spreading goodwill and Christmas joy throughout the Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Marianas and the Republic of Palau.

This was the first time the three nations trained alongside one another, executing 22 missions and flying 105.8 hours to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting about 20,000 people covering 1.8 million square miles.

"Our ability to interoperate with our allies and partners is critical," said Lt. Col. Andrew Campbell, 36th AS commander. "This kind of training and teamwork provides the foundation upon which we can work together in peacetime and crisis while addressing broader shared interests across the region."

Together, aircrews trained for HA/DR using low-cost, low-altitude airdrops on unsurveyed drop zones. This was an opportunity for the Japanese to hone their skill while working with the U.S. and Australian aviators, and provided a new technical skillset for the RAAF. The 36th AS provided observers and advisers onboard both JASDF and RAAF aircraft, while the JASDF and RAAF had observers onboard U.S. C-130s as well.

"Part of the importance of contributing to Operation Christmas Drop is the fact we are building on the relationships with the U.S. Air Force and the JASDF," said RAAF squad leader Christopher George Bassingthwaihte. "It's incredibly important for us to operate together, so that if a contingency or humanitarian crisis arises we can come together and pull our resources, and if we have done this before we will be able to do so much better."

One hundred bundles were successfully dropped to islands across the three objective areas. Each bundle contained donated items such as clothing, food, fish hooks, fishing line and other goods collected by the Operation Christmas Drop private organization and Airman at Andersen AFB. 

Some of the islands are so remote that they may only get one or two supply shipments via boat per year. According to Bruce Best, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center, Pacific program coordinator, "Christmas Drop is the most important day of the year for them, this is the biggest thing going on."



Best has been volunteering his time to help Operation Christmas Drop for the last 34 years, dedicating countless hours before and during Operation Christmas Drop to coordinate air drops between islanders and the 374th AW's mission planning cell (also known by its mission name, "North Pole Ops") via high frequency radio. He ensured islanders knew when they would receive their bundles, provided safety instructions and relayed back to the aircrews what identifying markers island residents put on the drop zones.

Every part of the Operation Christmas Drop mission is carefully planned with Best playing a pivotal role in ensuring the mission planning and execution was successful.

Each island that receives a bundle has their own unique way of deciding what they will do with the items inside. On the first day of drops, call sign SANTA 11, aircrews dropped two bundles with more than 800 pounds of supplies and toys to the island of Fais, in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The island has one main Chief, Chief Louis Mangtau, who governs three small villages. Holding a crucial position among his people, the chief was the first and only person to open the dropped bundles. He then sorted through the contents and made three piles, as villagers watched and waited patiently. Each pile was then given to the head of each village to determine who gets what -- except for certain coveted goods such as fishing line, hooks, and fins, which were distributed by the chief himself to those in need.

The process is well organized on Fais to make sure everything is divided fairly. While supplies inside the box are key and the toys fun for families, the parachute is said to be the most important item on the bundle. Islanders use it for a variety of applications, from covering their canoes to improving their roofing.

According Chief Mangtau, the church donates all the food for the island's holiday dinner, a time when all villages come together to eat and sing Christmas songs. He said the airdrops are enjoyable for the entire island and is an event they look forward to every year.

The anticipated Christmas dinner would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers, donations, the copious amount of maintenance hours and coordination with international partners.

Though the U.S., RAAF and JASDF all had their fair share of challenges from the severe weather of a tropical depression to aircraft maintenance and engine replacements, the hard work and dedication from then entire team made Operation Christmas Drop 2015 a resounding success.


RF-A: Historic JGSDF Jump


RF-A: Historic JGSDF Jump


A C-130 Hercules with the 36th Airlift Squadron became the first U.S. Aircraft to drop Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members on U.S. soil, Aug. 12, 2015, during RED FLAG-Alaska.

The JGSDF company, with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Airborne Brigade, alongside the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, jumped from the C-130 Hercules, showcasing just one example of RED FLAG-Alaska's capability to bring military powers together to train.

"It is great that we are to the point now that we are able to drop JGSDF from U.S. aircraft," said 1st Lt. Sydney Croxton, 36 AS C-130 Hercules pilot, who flew the aircraft with the Army and JGSDF members onboard. "Hopefully this creates opportunities in Japan and allows for more opportunities to conduct similar training."

The sentiment of Croxton is shared between Lt. Col. Masayasu Igarashi, JGSDF commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Airborne Brigade; and Capt. Kyle Soler, commander of Blackfoot Company, 1-501, who both believe that the combined training will pave the way for future collaboration and strengthen bonds between the two nations.

"Working with the Japanese military increases bonds and friendships, but also increases the understanding of the strategic value of our partnership and how it is perceived throughout the world," Soler said. "I think we are a big success as far as that is concerned."

The jump highlighted the U.S.-Japan partnership in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, but the aircraft was just one moving piece in a large-scale airfield seizure during RED FLAG-Alaska, the first of its kind to place during the exercise's history.

RED FLAG-Alaska, typically a fighter-centric exercise, allows aircrew to gain experience in a high-end combat environment while building relationships with multiple nations and increasing interoperability. The airfield seizure, while maintaining the training's focus, allowed mobility aircraft to take center stage and practice personnel airdrops in a combat-active airspace.

The scenario: An air convoy of C-130s would deliver dozens of ground troops to the designated location while conducting combat maneuvers and disengages. Fighters, aggressors and defenders, cluttered the airspace simultaneously; simulating either attempting to shoot down the C-130s or protecting them and ensuring the bodies on board made it to their location safely.

According to Maj. A.J. Baker, 36 AS and air mission commander for the training scenario, the airlift focus dynamically changes decision processes during flights.

"Now it isn't just their individual aircraft that they are defending, it is a train of C-130s that have 60 plus individuals on board depending on the aircraft type," Baker added.

Although it was airlift centered, the training included a large group of multinational players and a wide-range of aircraft. The U.S., The Republic of Korea, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal Thai Air Force, all played a role in the airfield seizure. Whether flying cargo, fighter or support aircraft, seven countries integrated into the scenario.

"The majority of objectives were met," Baker said. "Strike took out all the targets; enabling a safe operation for the Army and our escort did a really good job of protecting us [airlift assets]."

Baker said the exercise scenario set a new standard for multinational exercises and the possible scenarios that play a part in the training.

"I would be willing to bet that next year they will want to do it bigger," Baker said in regards to both the JGSDF jump and the airfield seizure. "Every training event that we do we take what we learned and we look to the future. We ask ourselves, 'how can we do it better next time?'

"It shows the growth between our [Japan-U.S.] friendship and collaboration," Baker said. "Its definitely a plus for our continued cooperation and the common defense of Japan and the Pacific region."

As for the 36 AS, Baker said flying and training at and around Yokota is great for aircrew, but it is never done on the scale that is allowed in the 67,000-mile air space over JBER.

"When we train at home, we are establishing building blocks," Baker said. "Red Flag-Alaska allows us to see our entire mission package pulled together and in full action."

On the ground

Once on the ground, the U.S. and JGSDF teams conducted a bilateral seizure of objectives essential to allowing aircraft landings. 

"Tactically speaking, when you are on the ground, everyone seems to speak the same language, so we found it easy to work with the JGSDF," Soler said. "They are highly proficient and well trained at their capabilities. We are just exposing them to a little more than they typically do at once. It is good to push their limits a little and to also push the limits of our own Soldiers and see what they are capable of."

Soler said his Japanese counterparts showed commendable approaches to solving problems. He said the JGSDF were very deliberate in their development and training and it reflected in their concise responses on the field.

"We have limited real-world contingency experience, but the unit we were training with has experience in a lot of areas," said Igarashi. "We have a lot that we can learn from them, allowing us to strengthen our own units."

Igarashi said, although there were minor differences between the units, none affected the mission

"There are differences in training and procedures, but when it comes to the heart and soul [of people], there are no differences no matter what country you come from," Igarashi said.

Gaining operational experience is the focus of training, but the nations gain more than mission planning and execution as they train together. Igarashi said the U.S. Soldiers taught him and his men a valuable lesson in relaxing and introduced them to aspects of American culture.

"For us, we learned that when you work, you work, but you also need to relax," Igarashi said. "The U.S. Soldiers showed us how they relax in between missions."

According to Igarashi, his troops were taken to downtown Anchorage to tour the town, shops and restaurants. 

"For a lot of our troops this is the first time they have ever been to a foreign country and they received a grand tour," Igarashi added.


Red Flag-Alaska: Yokota's airlift capabilities


Red Flag-Alaska: Yokota's airlift capabilities



Red Flag-Alaska: Yokota soars at RF-A


Red Flag-Alaska: Yokota soars at RF-A



Return To Flight

For two months a group of eight maintainers worked to repair the wings of a C-130 Hercules after it suffers extensive damage.

Return To Flight

For two months a group of eight maintainers worked to repair the wings of a C-130 Hercules after it suffers extensive damage.

With a calm, yet stern voice, Tech. Sgt. Joshua Lucero guides the four Airmen located below the right wing of a C-130 Hercules, Number 2067, who are giving a piggy back ride to a leading edge - the front part of the wing that covers the internals components . They're trying to attach it back to the wing.

"Guys, it needs to come out, over to the right, up and then back in," instructs Lucero, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems technician.

The Airmen comply as they attempt to align the teeth on both the leading edge and the aircraft, but the smallest of movements can throw it out of alignment. It doesn't want to fit and it's becoming a trying task. 

Lucero continues directing for the next 10 minutes or so as the group moves. Up, down, left, right, forward, back; they follow every instruction until they finally achieve victory. Albeit a small one.

But that's how the last two months have been. A series of victories toward an inevitable goal: to get Number 2067 back in the air where it belongs and not on the ground like a bird with its wings clipped. The aircraft suffered damage to its wings. Damage so severe that even Master Sgt. Jonathan Dowell, a 21-year veteran maintainer, has never seen anything like it.

"We checked the aircraft during a maintenance run and all the circuit breakers started to pop in the flight deck," said Dowell, 374 AMXS production superintendent. "Following this, a bleed air duct ruptured between the number three and four engines."

As they took the wing panels off, shrapnel fell out. The team was taken aback and shocked at the amount of damage 2067 had sustained. It was not something that was seen in their day-to-day maintenance.

Adding to the shock of seeing the damage was the news that a team of eight Airmen were tasked to rebuild the aircraft instead of a program maintenance depot team. This was an unusual decision given the extent of the repairs, but the team was up to the challenge.

"Everything between the number three and four engines was destroyed," Lucero said. "We replaced about 3,500 feet of wire along with a handful of line-replaceable units, brackets and the boost pump for the fuel tank."

From mid-January until late March, the eight-man maintenance team worked on the time-consuming to-do list. Remove the leading edges: check. Rewire the entire wing: check. Ensure the anti-ice system works properly: check. It was all very Humpty Dumpty-esque, but they were determined to put all the pieces back together until it was whole again.

"All the leading edges were removed, all the ducts inspected, damaged parts fixed and then we needed to put it back together," said Tech. Sgt. John Beltran, C-130 Hercules 2067 dedicated crew chief.

After two months of work and an estimated 5,000 man-hours, the time came to tow the C-130 from Hangar 15 to its rightful place on the flightline and eventually in the air.

As Number 2067 lifted off from the flightline, it did so before a gathered crowd of Airmen and higher leadership.  They watched as the wheels left the ground and it climbed into the sky. It was a moment of pride and accomplishment for everyone, but none could be prouder than the eight Airmen who worked for the last two months. Everyone applauded and congratulated each other as the plane disappeared into the distance.

For Beltran, being able to work on the repairs for 2067 has brought him closer to the aircraft.

"I've been working 12 hours a day for the last two months," Beltran said. "Spending every minute of every day with the aircraft has allowed me to really see all the pieces I didn't see before. It brings you closer to the aircraft. You care about it more because you've invested so much time in it and it becomes your baby."



The Drive To Survive

A look at the Air Force's survival specialists, SERE instructors. Survival, Escape, Resistance and Escape.

The Drive To Survive

A look at the Air Force's survival specialists, SERE instructors. Survival, Escape, Resistance and Escape.

9/30/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Some of you guys are gonna see some gigantic insects today," said the tall, sandy-blonde instructor with a laugh. "Gigantic insects. It's like Indiana Jones stuff."

In front of him sat a class of eight aircrew members. The instructor had a laid-back demeanor, but some of the stories he told as the instructional slides passed by were anything but: a man in Vietnam who evaded the enemy by floating down a river; watching a man's heel peel off because it had been wet too long; how to throw off the pursuit of dog handlers. The slides showed images of edible plants, makeshift shelters and frostbitten fingers.

Staff Sgt. Robert Rogers, 374th Operations Support Squadron Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training NCO in charge, has been serving the Air Force as a SERE specialist for eight years.

"As young as I can remember, I enjoyed being outdoors," Rogers said. "With all my free time I'm up in the mountains. I enjoy camping and fishing. I knew from day one when I went to the recruiter that I wanted to be a SERE specialist."

A SERE specialist is someone who teaches aircrew and other personnel, whose jobs put them high-risk of isolation, how to return from any type of survival situation with honor. 

"To be a SERE instructor it takes a special kind of person," Rogers said. "It takes the mindset of an individual who doesn't quite know the meaning of giving up; a stubborn person who's willing to deal with a lot of uncomfortable situations and use those experiences to teach others."

Rogers' colleague, Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Johnis, 374th Operations Support Squadron SERE NCO in charge, described Rogers as hard working, brave, humorous and dedicated to his family.

"You never know what he's cooking up next," Johnis said. "Sometimes I'll come into work to discover he's set up a full day of outdoor leadership training with the Boy Scouts or young Airmen. He's always trying to help people reach their full potential and he doesn't care about personal recognition for his efforts."

Rogers teaches the SERE combat survival course, a general refresher training course every three years which covers wilderness survival, evasion and escape from the enemy and how to conduct themselves after capture. At Yokota, combat survival comes as part of a one-week block of courses including trainings dealing with emergency parachuting and water survival, and an escape enhancement laboratory.

After the class, Rogers took the Aircrew members and several volunteers into his "territory": the wilderness. At least, the largely forested, 500-acre Tama Services Division Annex of the Tama Hills Recreation Area is about as close to wilderness one can get in the Tokyo metropolitan area. At Tama, the students donned multicam uniforms, painted their faces and set out into the tangle of vines, bushes and bamboo. The training scenario involved crawling through gutters, evading volunteers dressed as the "enemy" and being detained. Navigating with maps, compasses and their wits, the students' objective was to use what Roberts taught them to make their way to several designated area without getting caught. This realistic scenario simulates what might happen to an aircrew that survives a crash in hostile territory.

"It's a big responsibility to know that the information I provide could be the difference between life and death for someone," Rogers said. "Have I prepared the air crew enough to go through any situation? It's a bit stressful at times but I don't stay up worrying about it at night because I try my hardest to make them as prepared as possible."

As the training went into the night, the students were soaked from rain. They built a fire to keep them warm as they dealt with the cold, frustration and weariness.

"That's the biggest thing about being a SERE instructor: you push yourself to the limit physically and mentally," Rogers said. "You realize that things are possible if you try hard enough. It's something that I'll have with me through the rest of my life, knowing that there's always an opportunity to come through a difficult situation."

Rogers has been involved with real-world scenarios where he assisted recovery of personnel. In deployed environments, he worked alongside the consolidated personnel recovery centers, where he advised during recoveries.

"It's amazing to sit in on a personnel recovery mission when you have an aircraft down," Rogers said. "Just to watch the entire office shift focus to getting a person back. It's a total change in operations."

He also trained people leaving on combat missions on how to prepare to evade and survive.

"The most rewarding part of the job is the students we get to teach," Rogers said. "Your job is to prepare them for a situation that you don't want them to ever be in. I'm giving them the skills so I know if a scenario ever happens to these guys, they're prepared."

Johnis recalled how a few years ago he and Rogers were deployed to Bangladesh for a Cope South exercise.

"Rogers jumped static line from 1,000 feet to a drop zone with hundreds of spectators," Johnis said. "They swarmed him like he was a celebrity! He took the time to snap pictures and hi-five all the kids. It was a great moment shared by our two nations."

As Rogers watches Yokota execute its mission every day, he's been impressed with how his job is part of a larger entity.

"Everyone's has to continuously stay ready to support any contingency situation that may pop up," Rogers said. "Everyone's working together. SEREs just one integral part of a big moving machine that just never stops. It can never stop."


"That's the biggest thing about being a SERE instructor: you push yourself to the limit physically and mentally," Rogers said. "You realize that things are possible if you try hard enough."


Coming Home

Lt. Col Kevin Lord Reunites with a Longtime Mentor

Coming Home

Lt. Col Kevin Lord Reunites with a Longtime Mentor

It’s the middle of a day.  Heat waves are clearly visible. Strong rays of sun light make the air dense and hard to breathe for airmen on the flightline.  Eventually, two Fighting Falcon aircraft come into view accompanied by the sound of their viper engines.

In the cockpit, one of the pilots lowers his altitude in preparation for landing. Looking at the ground below, he begins to recognize his surroundings: the streets he walked to school as a teenager, the mountains he used to run through and the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji in the distance.

The nostalgia quickly rushes over him—the feeling of “coming home.” And with it, the memory of his first flight.

Lt. Col. Kevin Lord, now the 35th Fighter Wing inspector general, returned to Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 24, 2015. It had been 19 years since he last stepped foot at Yokota, the birthplace of his dream to becoming a pilot.

Lord spent his teenage years at Yokota. His father worked for Army Air Force Exchange Service and his mother worked as a civil servant. In these youthful years, Lord interacted with pilots and witnessed a variety of airplanes, inspiring him to apply for the Air Force Academy—the first step in his journey to becoming a pilot.

“As far back as I can remember, being a pilot is all I ever wanted to be,” Lord said. “But it wasn’t until my family moved to Yokota, the first Air Base we lived on, that I really decided that flying was what I wanted to do.”

He was accepted into the USAF Academy, and motivated by the news decided to get a head start on making his dream a reality. Fortunate for him, Yokota’s Aero Club and Cessna pilot training program was close by. For three months during his Senior year of high school Lord took ground study and flight instruction with Keita Nanko, a YAC flight instructor.

 “It was awesome flying over the base and seeing things from a different perspective.” Lord said, remembering his first flight above Yokota.  “Sure you can see it from a passenger plane, but there is nothing like being above your neighborhood and looking down while in complete control of where you are going.”

 Lord entered the Air Force Academy in 1996, with a Private Pilot Certificate from Yokota in hand. Having that past aviation experience allowed Lord to take part in the Cadet Competition Flying Team. A team comprised of only 10 cadets in the entire academy, highlighting the rarity of the opportunity.

“Kevin is awesome to work with,” Gaulin said. “He is a ‘get it done’ type of guy.  He never waits for someone to tell him what to do; he finds what needs to be done and does it.”  

 While working in a staff position for USAFE, Lord ensured combined air force flying units were resourced and prepped for upcoming missions. During real-world events, he also filled in as a subject matter expert on the crisis action planning team. Gaulin said Lord was trusted by leadership and his daily work dedication and effectiveness made him an invaluable team member on both a strategic and tactical level.


After Lord’s distinguished staff assignment at USAFE, he re-qualified in the F-16, leading him back to Japan, the country he called home as a teenager. Lord reentered the Japan sky in 2014 at Misawa Air Base, but he still longed for the opportunity to fly over the base that sparked his dream to become a pilot, and when that opportunity arose he jumped on it. 


“I was excited when I heard Yokota needed some F-16s to come down and do a barrier certification.” Lord said.  “When the flight got scheduled I asked the schedulers if I could lead the mission to Yokota.” Approaching Yokota from the cockpit of his F-16, he saw the green airfield and said it was welcoming. “It was awesome,” Lord said. “Coming in from the North and seeing Mt. Fuji, seeing the mountains of Ome and seeing the traffic on Route 16 out the gate…it was like coming home.”


 The Academy is difficult with all the competing demands it puts on your time,” Lord said. “You have a higher than average college course workload as well as all of the other physical and military requirements that come with being at a service academy.”

 His hard work and dedication paid off, Lord was selected to attend the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot training program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The program is the world’s only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO. 

Leaning on his previous knowledge and experience as a Cessna pilot, training began smoothly for Lord. But as the training progressed, Lord admitted it became much more difficult. 

  “I was extremely excited for the chance to fly the F-16, it is what I had been working towards,” Lord said. “Being at Yokota, I used to see them come in from Misawa or Korea and I always thought they were the coolest looking plane.”

 One step closer to his dream, Lord entered the F-16 Fighting Falcon Initial Qualification Training course with the 178th Fighter Wing Air National Guard in Springfield, Ohio. Lord was in for eight-and-a-half months of intense training including academics, simulator sessions and hands-on flight training.

 It felt like complete control.” Lord said recalling the first time he grabbed an F-16 control stick.  “You know that your training and preparation are going to be the difference on how well you perform,” he added. “Sometimes I would get a great feeling of pride and accomplishment, sometimes it was a feeling that I needed to work harder next time.  But knowing that it is was up to me, and that I was in complete control is always an exhilarating feeling.”

Lord’s career as an F-16 pilot spanned the globe including multiple US states, Germany, and South East Asia.  His former supervisor at the U.S. Air Force Europe-Air Force Africa, Lt. Col. Julie Gaulin, recounts her time working alongside Lord.

On the ground, Lt. Col. Gaulin, Lord’s former supervisor and now the 374th Operations Support Squadron director of operations, was waiting.  “While working, I just happened to mention to my co-worker, Nanko-san, that my friend Kevin Lord was in one of the F-16’s, and that I was excited to get to say hello to him,” she said. 

Keita Nanko, who now works as an air traffic specialist for the 374 OSS, immediately remembered his former student from nineteen years ago. Lord found time to meet his former instructor, Nanko-san, who helped him pave the first stones on his path to becoming a pilot. 

“He asked if I remembered him as a kid,” Nanko said. “I realized immediately who he was and remembered flying with him.” Nanko said that he was very proud to see Lord as a full-fledged Air Force pilot.  “I taught him how to fly,” Nanko added with excitement. “It is a great joy to see my students achieve their dreams.” Nanko said people often teach and mentor without realizing the profound impact they may be having on their student. 

He said Lord’s story is a testament to the success that comes along with putting in time and truly caring about a student’s aspirations. 

 “Flight training is not only learning how to fly, but also maturing your thought process,” Nanko said.” Instructors don’t give all the answers to students. We just assist them on how to find answers. In this training process, students grow up as aviators as well as humans."

 “Dream won't become true without hard work,” he added. “Students learn about this during flight training.” 

Nineteen years ago, Lord took off from Yokota’s runway in a Cessna-152 with aspirations to be a pilot in the United States Air Force. Now, in 2015, he is a lieutenant colonel, F-16 pilot, and proven leader. “I feel very fortunate to actually be doing what I want to do and have a job that I look forward to coming to everyday,” Lord said. “I am also very grateful that what I do also allows me to serve my nation.



Hiro Fujii // Tama Hills Golf Pro


Hiro Fujii // Tama Hills Golf Pro


"I think golf is a wonderful game like no other."


Golf is a game that can bring out the best in people and depending on how many bad shots they hit, the worst. Watching someone react after hitting a duff, flub, shank, skull, slice or hook can instantly tell you about his or her personality. It can be challenging, frustrating and above all else, mentally exhausting.

Surprisingly enough, these aspects of the game intrigue many people. Hiro Fujii, Tama Hills Golf Course assistant director of golf, just happens to be one of them.

"I think golf is a wonderful game like no other," Fujii said. "Whether you are American or Japanese, old or young, it does not matter. Anyone can play the game as long as you enjoy a challenge and the company of others."

Sporting a scratch handicap, meaning he consistently shoots around par, Fujii is no slouch on the golf course. When he first started playing in high school he knew it was too late for him to play on a professional tour, but along the way, a different aspect of the game caught his eye.

"While my father was teaching me the fundamentals of golf, I became very interested in teaching," Fujii said. "After working with my first students at THGC and watching them learn more each day, I quickly fell in love with it."

For the past 14 years Fujii has instructed students of all skill levels and ages. Every Sunday, he holds free clinics for service members at the THGC driving range to entice more potential "hackers" to join the game.


"I don't care if you have never swung a club before in your life, I can help you," he said. "As long as you show up with an open mind and a willingness to learn, you will leave a better golfer."

While the game may be challenging, even for the best players in the world, Fujii believes there is something to be cherished in every round.

"Golf has taught me so much over the years," Fujii said. "Patience is something I now have because of it. There will always be trials and tribulations, but after hitting that perfect shot, I promise you will be coming back for more."



Cope South


Cope South


1/29/2015 - BAF BASE BANGABANDHU, Bangladesh -- The flightline here at Exercise Cope South 15 is usually a flurry of activity every morning, with maintainers firing up auxiliary power units and loadmasters finalizing their cargo plan.

However on Jan. 27, there wasn't a single C-130 aircraft engine running. Instead, U.S. and Bangladesh Air Force Airmen were busy forging relationships and exchanging knowledge in their respective fields with one another.

CS15 features subject-matter expert exchanges, also known as SMEEs, across a multitude of Air Force specialties, including operations, maintenance and rigging disciplines. Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their respective BAF counterparts and learn aspects of each other's duties and technical prowess.

"SMEE day is probably the most important block of time here at Cope South," said Maj. Adam Staubach, Cope South mission commander. "It's really where the exercise takes off in terms of developing an understanding of each other's capabilities and sharing ways in which we can operate more cohesively as a unified force."

Staff Sgt. Scott Sorensen, a 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130H guidance and control system technician, had an opportunity to engage with several BAF maintenance personnel who share his specialty and discuss a variety of aircraft maintenance matters.

"Although the BAF maintainers work on the C-130B and we work on the C-130H, we are very similar in a lot of ways," Sorensen said. "They've seen and done a lot of things with the Herc during their careers. As a fellow maintainer, I can appreciate their attention to detail and commitment to keep it flying 100 percent."

One of the busiest exchanges happened in the cargo hold area of the flight line, where riggers and loadmasters from Yokota's 374th Airlift Wing demonstrated their patented low-cost, low-altitude, or LCLA, airdrop bundle techniques to Bangladeshi airmen.

The LCLA airdrop configuration utilizes minimal rigging supplies and decommissioned personnel parachutes that are still serviceable to deliver customized cargo, such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief, in bundles up to 600 pounds. Additionally, it can be rigged in a "coastal" configuration suitable for a shoreline drop zone.


"LCLA offers a cheap, effective and accurate delivery system that is transferable across the tactical airlift, especially the C-130, community," said Staff. Sgt. Wantani Redo, a U.S. Army-certified rigger assigned to the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "This region is prone to floods and natural disasters, so we're excited and proud to share this innovative airdrop method with our Bangladeshi partners."

To further demonstrate the technique, two LCLA bundles configured by Yokota and BAF Airmen were loaded on a BAF C-130B aircraft for delivery to a forward drop zone near Sylhet. The following day, Bangladeshi airmen pushed the bundles from the ramp of their C-130 where each successfully landed in its designated drop area.

"Days like today are an important way to learn not only about each other, but how we can improve our teamwork as Airmen," Wantani said.