Kadena’s Force Support Squadron wins three Air Force annual awards

  • Published
  • By Gordon Murdock
  • 18th Force Support Squadron
The 18th Force Support Squadron was recently honored with three Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services annual awards.

First, the Kadena Aero Club and Flight Training Center claimed the 2013 Air Force Aero Club Program of the Year award. Kadena's Aero Club is the only Federal Aviation Administration certified testing facility in Japan. They boast the Air Force's most diverse fleet of Cessna and Liberty aircraft. During the period of award, they trained 100 pilots and flew 1,700 sorties.

"There are only a few Aero Clubs remaining across the Air Force," said Scott Mase, Aero Club manager. "We're fortunate to have a strong program and great leadership support here at Kadena, and a tremendous interest in touring the island by air or becoming a pilot."

In the seven years he's been manager, Mase said Kadena's Aero Club has grown significantly.

The FSS Marketing office also garnered top honors across the Air Force. Marketing manages 29 Facebook pages and three websites, and creates radio and television spots that air on the Armed Forces Network. They also produce Venture, a monthly publication featuring recreation, travel, dining and entertainment opportunities around Kadena.

Additionally, the team mentored 18 young students this past year, including one intern with autism.

Marketing is also the focal point for Kadena's Interactive Customer Evaluation site where customers from any Kadena unit can complete an online comment card, rate their experience or share feedback with managers.

Finally, Jason Vandenberg, the Community Services flight chief, was recognized as the Air Force A1 Flight Chief of the Year.

Vandenberg leads a team of 437 recreational mangers providing most of the "fun" opportunities on Kadena. Among his activities are Outdoor Recreation, Kadena ITT, Schilling Community Center, golf, bowling, Kadena Marina, Karing Kennels, base pools and more. His team also delivers many big base events such as concerts, festivals and base-wide celebrations like Kadena's holiday celebrations.

Vandenberg deployed during the year as the deputy to the commander at his deployed location.

"It was an honor to deploy and serve alongside the military members who do this on a regular basis," Vandenberg said. "While it was difficult at times to be separated from my family and the comforts of home, I now know firsthand what our warfighters sacrifice in the service of our nation."

"Force Support Squadrons provide the foundation for one of the top AF priorities--'taking care of Airmen and their families,'" said Col. Kathleen Weatherspoon, 18th FSS commander. "Kadena FSSers pride themselves on making lives better, and this recognition is a result of an awesome team taking outstanding care of our guests. I am amazed every day at the things they are able to accomplish, and am honored to lead this fabulous unit."

As the best in PACAF four years running, Kadena FSS knows a thing or two about customer service and these latest Air Force-level awards are a testament to the fact they are not satisfied with resting on their laurels--they are committed to continuous improvement.

Weatherspoon added this bit of advice to the community, "Get out there and check out all FSS has to offer."