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Japanese organization honors Kadena NCO for bringing Airmen together

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jeremy McGuffin
  • 18 Wing Public Affairs
A Kadena Air Base senior noncommissioned officer received a unique award recently for his work enhancing cooperation and friendship with the Japan Air Self Defense Force. 

Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Trawick, 18th Wing AFSO 21 process manager, was recognized in a ceremony Feb. 8 by the Japan-American Air Force Goodwill Association (JAAGA) for his efforts setting up exchange programs between Kadena and JASDF Airmen. A JASDF Airman, Senior Master Sgt Naoshi Oshiro was also recognized for his efforts to promote cooperation between the two services. 

Sergeant Trawick has been the 18th Wing bilateral coordinator since 2001 and twice a year has organized non-commissioned officer exchanges with JASDF counterparts. 

"I felt very happy but also humbled to win this award because I did not do this to get recognized," said Sergeant Trawick. "I did all of these JASDF events because I wanted to do them." 

JAAGA sponsored the award ceremony which was co-hosted by JASDF personnel and held at Naha Air Base. JAAGA is a private organization made up primarily of retired JASDF officers and is dedicated to promoting cooperation and friendship between the JASDF and U.S. Air Force. 

Retired JASDF Gen. Shoji Takegochi presided over the ceremony and presented Sergeant Trawick with the award, which consisted of a plaque and citation in both English and Japanese. He praised the work of Sergeants Trawick and Oshiro to enhance camaraderie and teamwork between the two Air Forces.

Sergeant Trawick accepted his award and gave brief remarks in Japanese thanking JAAGA and the JASDF for jointly hosting the event. 

"This award has significant meaning to me because it's unique," said Sergeant Trawick. "To be presented with it on a JASDF base in-front of a crowd of Japanese Airmen was awesome and something I will always remember. I really enjoy working with JASDF, so to be recognized for doing what I enjoy drives me to take it to the next level." 

The NCO exchange programs that Sergeant Trawick oversees are designed to share knowledge, experience, and understanding of cultural differences. Typically six to seven Kadena NCOs spend about 10 days at a JASDF base, and then several months later, Kadena reciprocates by hosting six to seven JASDF members. 

"The NCO exchange is targeted more at the day-to-day activities of how the two services conduct our Air Force missions," said Sergeant Trawick. 

The participants come from various career fields, and during that time they work side by side with their counterparts and are usually assigned based on their jobs. They live in the dormitories, eat in the dining facility, and participate in physical training programs - essentially being fully incorporated into the unit. 

"The obvious benefit is the training that participants receive and the ideas provided to each other while on duty," he said. "Another benefit comes after duty when they learn about each others' culture and share activities that can only be experienced through a true immersion like this NCO exchange." 

Sergeant Trawick encourages NCO's to get involved in this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

"As long as we are stationed here in Japan and working together doing joint training or real world activities, any opportunity to conduct the exchange program will enhance mutual cooperation, interoperability, and cultural understanding," said Sergeant Trawick.