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The One-Stop Shop

In a world of instantaneous information at your fingertips the smartphone has changed our lives.  Thanks to the tremendous efforts of my Communications Squadron and the Public Affairs Office with cooperation from other units and agencies across the base, Yokota AB has published its own mobile app!

The Yokota Connect app, which will be maintained and updated by Public Affairs, links users to useful information the Yokota Community wants to know.  It will provide instant access to community and school events, hours for base services, Yokota news and happenings and base directory information.  It also gives the commander the ability to communicate directly to the community through real-time alert messages.

Yokota Connect Highlights

· The download is available free to both Apple and Google users
· One-stop information source saving countless hours of searching the web for the info you need
· Works with iPhones, Android phones, and tablets
· Phone directory for Yokota with direct dial capability
· Push notifications from the AW/CC directly to your phone
· PCS information for those moving to or from Yokota
· Official news and social media
· Easy-to-use layout

Bottom Line

Go to your app store and search for “Yokota” and then download the free app that will make finding Yokota AB information faster and easier.  It gives military, civilians, and dependents access to the most desired information about the Yokota Community. 

Top Useful Features

Here are the things I like the most about the app:

The phone directory is tabbed out by category:  for example, instead of an endless alphabetized list, I can simply choose food to find Pizza Hut or Chili’s or Recreation to find info about bowling or Tama Hills.  By clicking on the phone number, it will immediately dial the number saving me time from actually having to leave the app and manually type the full number in a separate phone application.

One of the stand out features I enjoy the most is the capability to reach every single member of Yokota.  With user enabled push notifications the entire community can be notified of an event or a situation in real-time.  This will keep everyone informed with quick, accurate, and credible information. Examples uses for this feature include notifications for delayed reporting, school cancellations, weather events, safety information, etc. 

Not only is the app useful for those currently stationed at Yokota, but transitioning personnel, whether PCSing or TDY, will find this tool extremely useful.  Those with assignments to Yokota can find information about sponsorship, base maps, lodging, privately owned vehicles, schools, household goods shipping, travel documents, finance, housing, pets, in-processing, employment opportunities and more.   Inbound TDY personnel can also find information regarding the Japanese rail system, shuttle bus services from Narita, and local taxi services. 

Conclusion

Our Airmen and families crave access to accurate and rapid information.  I am pleased to announce Yokota Connect has arrived.  The phone directory, instant push notifications and links to dynamic information make this app a must have for all members of the Yokota community and those that will soon be arriving.  With its sleek design, navigating within the app is a breeze and makes this a worthwhile tool.  You can find it in both the Google and Apple stores for free download simply by searching for “Yokota.”  So what are you waiting for?  

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Strengthening Partnerships

Greetings Team! Strengthening partnerships is one of our Wing’s lines of effort.

Someone once told me that only senior leadership can truly affect our strategic partnerships here in Japan. I humbly submit that is simply not true!

There are many visible ways we can strengthen partnerships while serving here in this beautiful country. For instance, on Yokota we have Japanese partners who work side-by-side with us on a daily basis to accomplish our mission.

The work and effort you put in every day leaves an impression to our teammates of our commitment to this partnership. Additionally, we play host several times a year to our local communities through special events and occasions. Get out and take part in these activities!

Your group is also attached to a “friendship club” with one of our neighboring communities…get involved with these clubs! Our local communities are amazing, get to know the folks around here every chance you get.

Another way we as individuals can help strengthen our partnerships is by being great ambassadors when we are off base. Do the simple things: follow the rules on the train, don’t litter, be polite, don’t wear offensive clothing, etc.…in essence represent your Team to the best of your ability. It sounds simple, and it is! Usually it’s the small and simple things that make a difference.

We can also continue strengthening our partnerships with each other…taking care of Airmen!

Often when we think outside of the box, we can find creative ways to do things more efficient, effectively, safer, more cost effective, etc. One thing we in the 374th Comptroller Squadron are looking at is going to an “All Things Financial” model here within the Wing.

What this would entail is detailing out our financial Airmen to be part of your squadrons. When you have a pay issue, you visit “your” finance guy/gal located in your unit. They will be part of your team, your day-to-day ops, your schedule, etc. Now we aren’t quite there yet with manning or available experience, but it is certainly something that we are exploring and hoping to deliver on in the near term.

 To me, ideas like this help strengthen our internal partnerships. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea or any others that you may have. Thank you again for what you do for us each and every day!

Lt. Col. James Cunningham, 374th Comptroller Squadron Commander

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Build a Strong Community

This is the third in an installment of blogs about our Wing’s Lines of Effort (LOEs) that were recently published.  I would like to examine the role of the 374th Medical Group and how the MDG aligns with the various LOEs.  It would be easy to assume that the Medical Group would align itself under the LOE of “Build a Strong Community” as it is our responsibility to ensure the health care for the 11,000 beneficiaries in our community. 

However, I would ask you to consider that it is also the responsibility of the Medical Group to “Develop World Class Airmen”.  The Medical Group is not unlike other groups on the base that receive young Airmen, straight out of tech school or medical residencies and these young Airmen need guidance and mentoring just as they do for other career fields.  We take this charge very seriously.  The MDG Top 3 hosts monthly Lunch-n-Learns to cover issues that affect all ranks and on all topics.  We have a stringent OJT program and utilize training arrangements with both Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Tripler Army Medical Center to ensure those 3-Level Airmen are successful in achieving 5-Level certification prior to PCSing to a larger facility. We train not only to ensure that we are ready, but to ensure that those we are responsible for are healthy so that they can do the jobs they are trained for…routine mission or contingency mission. 

As we train our medics to care for our patients, we are also training our Airmen to be ready to fight!  We train, exercise and inspect as though the fight is real and right now. As medics, when we shift to a wartime scenario, our entire structure changes to one of teams and we no longer exist in our stovepipes of excellence.  We become teams working together to care for patients, transport patients, move supplies, evacuate patients, thaw blood, perform surgery, etc.  Our training ensures that our doctors, nurses, and technicians will be ready to fight when asked!

And finally, our Medical Group continues to strengthen partnerships with our downtown counterparts to ensure we are able to gain access to services for our patients.  Our doctors and nurses spend many hours training side-by-side with our Japanese physicians in our Japanese Observership Program.  These Japanese physicians have helped decrease our transfer time into local hospitals as well as helping us to better understand the Japanese medical system.  In turn, our staff has taught them the language skills they will need to advance their training in a US medical program.  Our partnership building does not stop here.  We are also working with off-base hospitals to aid in their responses to natural disasters and this has opened more opportunities to work together as one team.

The men and women of the 374th Medical Group are proud to provide you the Best Health Care in the Pacific!

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Developing World Class Airmen: 374th Maintenance Group

Samurai Warriors,

Col Moss in an earlier blog post laid out the Wing’s Lines of Effort (LOEs) that helps guide our efforts to support the Wing’s Mission, Vision and Priorities (MVPs).  What I would like to do is look at one of the LOEs, “Developing World Class Airmen”, and discuss how the 374th Maintenance Group is going to focus on that area to build an A Professional Maintenance Force ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow. 


Training is the life blood of maintenance and is truly one of the cornerstones of what makes our Air Force the Greatest in the World.  Over the next year, training will become the primary mission of the Maintenance Group due to our transition from the C-130H to the C-130J. A fact that may be lost on a lot of folks is how different the aircraft really are even though they look very similar (The J is about 15 ft. longer and has a 6-bladed prop vs. a 4-bladed prop).  A simpler understanding of the differences might be better explained by the comparison of trading out your 1974 Ford Pick-up for the new top of the line 2017 Ford F-150 Super duty.  Think of all the changes in technology and advances that have been made in the automobile industry from 1974 to 2017 and now apply that same concept to a very capable aircraft.                                                                                       

MXG will build World Class Airmen through focusing on not only the tasks that are inherently different, due to the technical differences of the C-130H and C-130J, but we will also refocus our efforts on the basics of maintenance 101 that occur through every task.  The concept of focusing on maintenance 101 is common across all career fields.  The premise is to focus on and build positive habits for those things that we have to do during every task, whether it be in the beginning/middle/or end of a task.  I liken this to putting on your seatbelt when you get into a car…if you have built the positive habit, it becomes something that just doesn’t feel right when you don’t accomplish it.  For maintenance, those tasks become things like reviewing documentation before a task, wearing the proper protective equipment during a task, or doing a tool inventory at the end of a task.  If we pay close attention to detail on the basic steps, it is human nature that that same attention to detail will filter into the more difficult, less common tasks, thus making our maintenance effectiveness and safety that much better. 

Over the next year if we focus our training regimen on building a C-130J technically proficient force with a focused attention to detail that is sustained by basic fundamental maintenance habits, the Maintenance Group will continue the tradition at Yokota AB of developing World Class Professional Maintainers that are second to none at generating Tactical Airlift in a safe, healthy work environment.  Are you ready for the transition?

If It’s in the Air…Maintenance Put it There!!!

 

Col Sean Robertson, 374th MXG Commander

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As One!

“As one!” yelled Maximus Decimus Meridius, former Roman General of the Felix Legions and commander of the Armies of the North, as he led a ragtag group of slaves-turned-gladiators, into mortal combat against a better trained and better equipped legion of Rome’s finest soldiers.  It’s one of my favorite scenes from my favorite movie of all time.  If you’ve seen the Ridley Scott movie, you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about.  The battle occurs during the ludi gladiatori (the games of gladiators) by order of the malevolent emperor Commodus and is intended to be a re-enactment of the Roman victory over Carthage.  It takes place on the arena floor in the iconic Roman Colosseum.  There is not a soul present among the many spectators that does not know that the Carthaginians (portrayed by Maximus and his motley group of slaves) are doomed to be massacred.  But the slaves quickly come together under Maximus’ superior leadership and score a decisive and unanticipated victory over the legionaries of Scipio Africanus, bringing the entire crowd to its feet.  For me, the scene artfully captures something I know to be true in everyday life.  When a team of people have clarity of purpose and unify together towards achieving that purpose—they’re unstoppable, no matter what the odds.  Never underestimate a team that has clarity of purpose and unity of effort!

It’s a truth that we as an Airlift Wing need to embrace now more than ever.  We’re certainly no “band of ragtag gladiators,” but we are part of the smallest, busiest Air Force in our history…and the demands seem to continue to grow.  Our senior Air Force leaders acknowledge and are dealing with the serious disconnect between the Air Force our nation expects and the Air Force it has today.  Yet we still have a no-fail mission to do: we swiftly project airpower throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region to defend our nation, support our partners, and promote a free and stable world.  Make no mistake, this is the clarity of purpose that we should come to work with every day.

That said, being a smaller, resource constrained force demands that we come together and focus our efforts.  If each of us are going to remain physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially balanced...and still be truly effective at our mission in this current environment...we must not only work smarter, but we must apply our manpower, money, equipment, and time on efforts that deliver results.  This is precisely why our wing commander has recently communicated the following four Lines of Effort:  Develop World Class Airmen, Build a Strong Community, A Base Ready to Fight, Strengthen Partnerships.  These Lines of Effort are rally cries that will focus us and guide us as we come together to weed out well-intentioned initiatives and tasks that don’t directly contribute to our aforementioned mission.  The challenges we face today are far too serious, and the implications of failure far too great, to allow ourselves to be distracted by efforts or tasks that don’t deliver mission success.  It will be up to all of us to commit to these Lines of Effort and hold each other accountable to them, lest we find ourselves doing things that don’t directly contribute to one or more of the four focus areas.

In the words of General Maximus, let’s “Come together!  Lock shields!  As one!”

 

Col Robert Dotson, 374th Operations Group Commander

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Commander-in-Chief Installation Excellence Award Survey

Yokota Air Base is guaranteed either first or second place for the Commander-in-Chief Installation Excellence Award, which means we will receive a monetary prize to use for the morale and welfare of the base. We need your help to decide how to spend it. Please insert your ideas below.

Create your own user feedback survey

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374th Airlift Wing Lines of Effort

Greetings, Samurai warriors! 

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  The purpose of this writing is to introduce the Wing to a concept that I hope will synchronize our work and better enable us to project airpower and defend the nation.  The concept i’m introducing is the Line of Effort.

            A few weeks ago, the senior enlisted and officer leaders gathered to discuss the Wing’s current Mission, Vision and Priorities (MVP) document.  There was broad agreement that the document accurately captured the elements required to be a successful Samurai warrior.  First, we must be a resilient, combat-ready force capable of swiftly projecting airpower throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.  To do this, we must be bold, smart, aggressive professionals.  Finally, we put a priority on our people, readiness and engagement.  We think the Wing’s MVP is an outstanding guide to what we must become to ensure our nation’s defense and support our partners in a free and stable world.  But the challenge identified by the Chiefs and Colonels gathered was this: how do we operationalize the MVP?  In other words, how do we ensure the Wing is on track to achieve the lofty goals outlined in the MVP given the limited resources available?  After many hours of debate and discussion, we came to the conclusion the Wing needed Lines of Effort (LOEs) that would focus our activities in support of the MVP.  Given the guidance provided in the MVP, we agreed on 4 LOEs for the base: 

  1. DEVELOP WORLD CLASS AIRMEN
  2. BUILD A STRONG COMMUNITY
  3. A BASE READY TO FIGHT
  4. STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS

These LOEs provide the necessary guidance and synergy for ensuring the Wing can make an informed decision on where to direct our focus.  Now, each of the LOEs has numerous sub-tasks within it.  After all, Developing World-Class Airmen doesn’t happen simply because we make it a Line of Effort!  In fact, none of these LOEs is stand-alone; they are not designed to be stand-alone.  What they are designed to do is guide the assessment of whether an activity or task supports the accomplishment of reaching the Wing MVP.  In other words, these LOEs enable us to operationalize the MVP.  For example, the recent Exercise falls squarely under the LOE for “A Base Ready to Fight,” which directly contributes to our ability to defend our nation and support our partners.  The LOEs provide a guide for nearly every Wing activity.

Over the coming days and weeks, I will expand on each of the LOEs so that as a community we can understand where we are going and how what happens on this base helps us achieve the MVP. 

Samurai warriors…swift to fight!

 

Col Kenneth Moss, 374 Airlift Wing Commaner

 

 

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Commander's Corner: Dorm Visitor Hours

Team Yokota,

One of the most difficult parts about living overseas for many is being away from family and loved ones. This is especially true for our single Airmen who live in the dorms. The question is often brought up about why we have certain visitor hours in the dorms, and how can someone move from the dating phase to engagement and possibly marriage abiding by these restrictions.

The very simple answer to why we have visitor hours is because the Air Force mandates it in AFI 32-6005.

2.20. Social Visits. The Commander establishes local policy regarding social visits. At minimum, guests must be at least 18 years old, be escorted at all times and are prohibited between hours 2400 - 0600 hours. Cohabitation is not authorized.

Every Wingman Day, and other occasions throughout the year, we discuss the 4 pillars that help us become resilient Airmen. One of those is the social pillar which includes building those personal relationships that help us manage the stress we sometimes feel being separated from family. I encourage everyone to get out of the dorms and find people with similar interests. This provides a shoulder to lean on, a wingman to talk to, and someone to share in those wonderful moments and experiences that this mission, this country and this region have to offer.

The bottom line is yes, we have policy that restricts visitors from being in the dorms from midnight to 0600, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from pursuing relationships, making friends, or strengthening that social pillar of resiliency. There are plenty of examples here on Yokota of dorm residents building and strengthening successful relationships with non-dorm residents, while adhering to the visitor hour policy. I would also encourage everyone to look out for that Airman who spends too much time alone or appears isolated. Being this far away from family and friends is tough, but it is also an opportunity that not many people get in a lifetime. So seize the opportunity, find something great to experience, and take a buddy with you!

 

 

Col Kenneth Moss,

Commander, 374 Airlift Wing

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Commander's Corner: Dining Facility Hours

Team Yokota,

I couldn’t be prouder of the way our community is voicing, and more importantly, responding to issues and concerns that impact the quality of life of our Airmen. Recently we had many of our team members voice their concerns about the Dining Facility hours and missed meals. Yokota Air Base employs some of the hardest working Airmen in the Air Force and we need to ensure that they are getting the nourishment that they need to keep the mission going.

Last month an ‘hours of operation’ survey was sent to all meal-card holders to gather data on ways to improve service. After reviewing results of the survey, our Mission Support Group was able to adjust the DFAC hours to better accommodate everyone. These changes have already taken effect.

Some additional information that the Food Service Management Staff wants to ensure everyone knows is that:

-        The Air Force Common Output Level Standard (AFCOLS) required hours of operation for the Samurai Café Dining Facility is 56 hours per week. Currently the DFAC is open 67.5 hours per week exceeding the standard.

-        Customers may also use the DFAC’s Ground Support Meal service which provides 13 menu options available 24-hours a day. Just call the Samurai Café DFAC at 225-8870 or visit their SharePoint page and fill out the request form.

-        The DFAC holds quarterly Food Advisory Council meetings and welcomes customer feedback. They invite meal card holders to join the next meeting on 23 March 2017, from 1130 to 1230 at the DFAC.

Again, this is a great example of how we can continue to improve the way that we take care of Airmen and their families. I encourage everyone to use their chain of command to bring up issues you are facing, and if you feel you need an alternate option, go to www.yokota.af.mil and use the Commander’s Action Line.

 

Col Kenneth Moss

Commander, 374 Airlift Win

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Commander's Corner: Allied Telesis data caps

Team Yokota,

I recently received a question regarding Allied Telesis and why we have data caps on our internet service on base. We realize that online gaming, communication, video streaming, etc. is an integral part of our daily lives, but the fact is that bandwidth is not an unlimited nor a free resource.

Command leadership is dedicated to providing the best living conditions for our members, so we work closely with AAFES and Allied Telesis, who are responsible for providing commercial internet service to Yokota, to make sure we’re providing the best services we can. 

They determined that fair usage values are the best method to control internet usage abuse, and protect the resources available for the majority of Yokota members.  If unrestricted, abuse by a small percentage of customers impacts all customers.

Some examples of abuse include:

-Customers sharing service. For example, one dorm resident signs up for service and shares connection with many others.

-Customer has malware or other services acting as servers that take a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. For example, file sharing and torrent services.

-Customers leave streaming HD video running even when they are not in the room watching the service.

It is important for us to be good stewards of all resources, including internet usage.  Allied Telesis determined that limiting the amount of data any one customer can use ensures everyone on Team Yokota has access to the same quality of service.  This is about being part of a team, and we have to share the finite amount of internet available to use here at Yokota. 

I appreciate the question and the opportunity to share this information with everyone who may have had similar concerns.

 

Col Kenneth Moss

Commander, 374 Airlift Wing

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Airlifter of the Week

Congratulations to Staff Sgt. Thomas McCarthy, 374th Dental Squadron dental readiness program manager, on being the Airlift of the Week. McCarthy was selected as the lead for the dental identification and assisted medical examiners with two fallen military personal, conducting 80 radiographs. As a Wing Chapel “Club Beyond” youth ministries volunteer, McCarthy provided weekly guidance for 35 members of Yokota youth providing over 20 hours of one-on-one mentorship. His work ethic and dedication to his squadron and the base chapel set him apart as an outstanding leader and positive role model.

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Dirty Jobs - Yokota's Dirt Boys

This is the second article in a series focusing on and recognizing the 'Dirty Jobs' done by Airmen of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron.

From keeping the flightline mission ready to maintaining the roads and sidewalks, the behind scenes work done by a small group of Airmen known as the 'Dirt Boys' keeps Yokota's mission going.

The 374th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and equipment shop understand aircraft operations depend on their ability to ensure the flightline remains fully operational.

"Our number one job is to maintain the airfield," said Master Sgt. Frank Uecker, 374 CES pavements and equipment shop section chief. "Through heavy rain, hail or snowfall, ensuring that the airlifting mission here at Yokota is not infringed on is why we're here."

Cement spalls are the most notable obstacle the 'Dirt Boys' face when working to keep. A spall is broken up, flaked, or pitted concrete. Environmental factors stress the concrete, causing it to become damaged and often creating spalls.

"Removing the small breaks as soon as they appear on the airfield is key part of our preventative maintenance practices," said Senior Airman Richard Mora, 374 CES pavements and equipment apprentice.

Additional preventative maintenance practices include clearing storm drains to prevent the runoff of rain or melted snow from flooding the airfield, removing weakened trees that threatened structures, and cutting grass.

"Nobody would ever think that cutting the grass would be an important task to accomplish," said Mora. "However, doing so prevents birds from nesting as well from grass from becoming overgrown and roaming onto runways."

The pavements and equipment shop also works to eliminate foreign object debris from the airfield.

"Whether it is propeller or jet engines, aircraft on the airfield have the potential to suck in FOD," Uecker said. "By eliminating FOD, we prevent unnecessary wear and tear to the engines." 

From shovels and jackhammers to cranes and bulldozers, the duties of the 'Dirt Boys' require them to be experts of a wide assortment of machinery. Their expertise allows the shop to assist other shops and squadrons around base.

"We assist any and everyone on base that needs a helping hand," Mora said. "From helping the heating and ventilation shop install a unit to supporting the maintainers with our cranes to hoist an engine, we do it all.

Mora admitted that the most challenging part of his duties was staying up to date of job knowledge.

"You have to be knowledgeable and have a hunger to learn if you want to be successful," Mora said. "You can't doze off or get sidetracked. People's lives can't afford it. From pedestrians and traffic to the Airman standing next to you, their safety and yours depends on your awareness."

It is clear that the 'Dirt Boys' have earned their nickname. From repairing cement spalls on Yokota's airfield to sawing down trees that may pose a threat to structures around base, their dirt covered uniform at the end of the day is a small sacrifice to ensuring Yokota's mission is not impacted.

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Dirty Jobs - Yokota's pest control

This is the first article in a series focusing on and recognizing the 'Dirty Jobs' done by Airmen of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron.

The role of entomology Airmen is far reaching. From performing disease vector surveillance to providing base wide pest control services for insects and wildlife, these Airmen utilize both preventative and immediate response maintenance practices to ensure that facilities remain pest free.

Entomology's preventive maintenance program includes the monitoring of the 24 food facilities on base, including the Yokota Community Center, Enlisted Club and Officers Club.

"We ensure that food facilities are pest free environments," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Cenarrusa, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management craftsman. "We also help assist public health with sanitation of any potential issues at the facilities to mitigate potential human health diseases and hazards."

Entomology Airmen employ many different eradication methods when approaching the variety of pests they encounter, including pesticides and baiting, although, identifying and repairing any infrastructure imperfections that may lead to pest, is the most effective.

"By sealing cracks and crevasses, fixing door jams and removing areas where insects can get in and out of facilities, we can eliminate problems before they occur," Cenarrusa said.

Ensuring that all facilities practice effective sanitation procedures is another valuable method they use to prevent pests.

"Throughout our inspections, we provide recommendations to facility managers and individuals around the base to resolve any problematic areas that were the result of improper sanitation practices," said Staff Sgt. Joel Mendoza, 374 CES pest management craftsman. "Insects require food, warmth and water to thrive. If we can eliminate those sources in unwanted areas, we can reduce and suppress insects that are being attracted to that area."

It is the responsibility of everyone on base to do their part in decreasing the presence of pests. By maintaining good housekeeping as well as ensuring windows and floors are sealed correctly, we can minimize the chance of unwanted visitors. In addition, they have the additional responsibility of assisting with the Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard program.

"We have the responsibility of suppressing the presence of birds throughout the base," Cenarrussa said. "Because birds pose a potential threat to the safety of our aircrew and aircraft, we work alongside Wing Safety to ensure the threat is minimized."

374 CES entomologist also work to keep the airfield wildlife free by baiting and relocating animals such as weasels, ferel cats and dogs.

"Yokota has its own unique challenges when it comes to pest eradication, but that's one of the reasons why I love my job," Cenarrusa said. "Every base you go to is unique - from the pest themselves to the climate and methods of control, there is always an opportunity to learn new things in the career field."

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USO Empire tour visits Yokota

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Yokota travel series: Takahata Fudo Temple

There are numerous temples throughout Japan for adventurous travelers to visit. One of those temples is Takahata Fudo Temple, which was founded near the beginning of the 8th century to serve the imperial family. The temple is one of the three famous Kanto Fudo Buddhist temples

Visitors enter the temple through the Niomon, the main gate, to view the Fudodou, the main temple, multiple buildings and 88 Buddhist statues along a hiking path.

The Fudodou Temple has small rooms on both sides of the altar. The original temple was located on the top of the hill, but was destroyed by a storm in 1335 and then rebuilt in its present location.

The new Fudodou Temple was constructed in 1987 and is a replica of the previous structure. The 200-year-old ceiling with the painting of a dragon was transferred to the new building. The new building still features the chrysanthemum crest, which represents the royal family and indicates the royal family used this particular temple at some time in the past.

During the short hiking course, people can view 88 Buddhist statues. The statues are marked from one through 88 and lead to an observation point on the hill ending with the final statue next to the small Daishido Temple.

Within the temple grounds are special talismans for sale which are believed to protect the charm owner from fires, illness and thieves. They also sell good luck charms for ensuring easy childbirth, family harmony, successful business and traffic safety.

There are also a variety of festivals held at the temple such as the Ajisai (Hydrangea) Festival, Chrysanthemum Festival and Mame-maki Festival.

The Ajisai Festival is held in June and exhibits more than 7,500 ajisai flowers blooming under the rainy-season skies.

The Chrysanthemum Festival, held in late October, exhibits over 1,500 kinds of chrysanthemums, consisting of large blooms, cascades, bonsai shrubs, cut flowers and more.  The festival also features special flower displays and gives the participants the opportunity to buy plants and participate in classes on growing chrysanthemums.

The Mame-maki Festival is held in February and involves people who are born in the year of the same Chinese zodiac sign as the current year throwing beans to chase away demons.

A train ride from Fussa Station to Takahata Fudo station takes approximately 42 minutes. From Fussa, take the Ome Line towards Tokyo and get off at Tachikawa Station. Then take the Tamatoshi Monorail towards Tama Center and stop at the Takahata Fudo Station. Finally, the traveler embarks on an eight minute walk to Takahata Fudo Temple.

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Airman experiences the drift zoo

Drifting can be described as the controlled chaos of sliding a vehicle around a turn. It's a sport of beat-up cars and burnt rubber, associated with hitting dirt banks and losing bumpers. Even the best drifters smack a wall now and then.

Yokota Airmen find different ways to channel their creativity and energy during their off-duty hours. Some go camping, some play ultimate Frisbee on Saturdays and others rip around tracks in shuttering, beaten cars at high speeds.

 "Drifting is the kind of thing every kid wants to do when he gets his license at 15," said Joseph Galloway, a 730th Air Mobility Squadron jet propulsion technician most often found with either a wrench or a steering wheel in hand. "I've never met anyone who went out there, experienced drifting, and didn't like it. It's wide-open throttle. It's burning rubber and burning gasoline and almost crashing. And crashing for real. Who doesn't wanna do a burnout sideways in a beat up car sliding against walls?"

Of course, Airmen are required to wear proper safety gear and fill out high-risk activity forms before participating in drift events. This ensures Airmen have experience and knowledge of an activity before participating, reducing the risk of harm.

To find out what drifting is all about, I spent a weekend with a group of five Yokota Airmen and two separated Airmen at Ebisu Circuit: a one-of-a-kind, combination zoo and drift track in the mountains of Japan. That weekend Ebisu held a fall drift festival, or Fall Matsuri.

The group drove four hours in a packed van to make it to their drift haven.

The entryway to Ebisu is hard to miss, marked with a large, zebra-striped display board mounted with a centered lion head surrounded by perching flamingoes.

"Ebisu is like Disneyland for drifting," said Angelo Manalastes, a dark haired, energetic young man who formerly worked as an Air Force vehicle mechanic. "Japan has some of the best tracks. Drifting is huge here, like Nascar to some Americans."

The night before the gates opened for Fall Matsuri, cars already crowded the entrance. The entire weekend was a rush of activity and energy. Inside the gates, children and bears watched smashed-up Skylines sputter past them as if there is nothing odd about a zoo-drift circuit.  Our group had been waiting for this weekend for months. The unwelcoming fall weather stayed mostly rainy and cold and their breath froze as they set up a tent on the pavement by the track. Sometimes their fingers shivered as they turned wrenches and cut wires, yet they were excited. Their spirits never seemed to fall for more than a moment. They laughed, joked and jibed each other constantly. The Airmen were enjoying their time off, doing the thing that they love.

 "When you're out on the track you don't even think about anything," Galloway said. "That's it, you're just out there. If you spin out it might be frustrating, but then you're having so much fun you can't really be upset."

Spinouts are common, and the track was designed with them in mind. Most turns have plenty of margin to get off the road.

"Safety is kind of a big deal," Galloway said. "No one get hurt because we have roll cages reinforcing the frame of the cars, we've got helmets, everyone's buckled up and you never have anything in the car that can fly around if you do end up crashing."

I'd never seen or heard anything like the drifting spectacle. As some of the Airmen tried to get the cars running, the less mechanically inclined of us stood by the track and watched drivers catch air and then spray us with sheets of water as they ripped around the bend, leaving as quickly as they came, the scream of their engine trailing behind the body. Some of the cars were beaten and some were shiny. Sometimes they made a perfect drift, sometimes they spun out and sometimes they hit the wall.

"When you're on the racetrack you can drive fast and slide corners and there are no consequences," Galloway said. "You're spending the money to burn the rubber and burn the gas and break the parts and rent the camping gear, but at the end of the day if you wreck into somebody else, you share a drink and talk about it afterwards. Then you fix your car and get out there again."

The Airmen and friends spent the two days fixing and driving their two drift cars, named Team Crash and Tire Eater. They called them missiles.

"A drifting missile is a car that you don't care about," Manalastes explained. "You don't mind slamming it into a wall or another car. The one we drive's got a little damage but I still love her. She's pretty."

Manalastes and Galloway drive the car named Tire Eater, inherited from previous drifters.

"She's faithful," Galloway said. "She runs well no matter what we do. There's not a corner on that car that's not messed up. The sides are probably pushed in six inches on each side and the back. It has no front or rear bumper or side skirts. She was probably one of the most beat up cars there."

They fixed Tire Eater enough to drive and ripped until they had to fix it again. All day pieces went flying, zip ties put them back on and ratchet straps held things together. Tires came off, tires went on, wires were cut and parts were replaced until inevitably someone said "Let's go eat!"

Meals were a reprieve from the constant rain and soggy cold. The group stayed in good spirits and continued racing along.

"It's nonstop chaos and that's the best part," Galloway said. "If you want to go make new friends or ride along with someone who's way better than you, you can do that. There's a lot of Aussies and a lot of Japanese that know some English. They don't even need to know English, you can just go up and make hand motions. It's almost like a big game of charades trying to communicate sometimes. They understand a little bit and you understand a little bit and everything works out."

Drivers come from around the world to drift at Ebisu, and it's a chance to meet a lot of people. The Ebisu trip was also a chance for all the Airmen to get a little more connected to their host country. Between the food, people, traditional-style rest stops, hot springs and even karaoke, there was a lot of culture to enjoy.

The friendships don't stop at the circuit. Three weeks after the Fall Matsuri, Manalastes and Galloway invited about 30 Japanese friends on base for a barbeque. These were friends they had met at car meets, auto shops and Ebisu.

"It was crazy how many people showed up," Galloway said. "Some of the guys we met at Ebisu drove almost two hours to meet up."

The crowd enjoyed an entire day together, cooking, eating and talking around the fire. New friends added each other on social media and made plans to meet again in the future.

Whatever job Airmen are working, taking some time to spend energy and creativity away from work is an important part of balancing their lives. People who enjoy cars have a bond that reaches across cultures. Whatever the interest, the relationships and the experiences are there, waiting to be made. It may just take a few words to kick it off, like "Hey man, what are you driving?"

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Honoring those who serve

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VIGILANT ACE: Maintaining the night

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Staying on Target

In keeping with their combat readiness requirements, Airmen participate in the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance course to learn skills vital for defending themselves and their fellow Airmen downrange. Airmen have to meet minimum qualifications in order to pass the course. They must demonstrate full knowledge of safety rules, procedures and characteristics of multiple weapons and types of ammunition.

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Airlift on display

The 374th Airlift Wing is responsible to the 5th Air Force commander for C-130H, UH-1N and C-12J operations including tactical air-land, airdrop, aeromedical and distinguished visitor airlift.

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