U.S. Air Force Japanese national receives Army Achievement Medal

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jamie Powell
  • USAF Expeditionary Center
A Japanese load planner assigned to the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron was awarded the Army Achievement Medal during a ceremony at Kadena Air Base, Japan, on Aug. 23.

Takahiro Namizato was awarded the medal for his contributions during a joint, bi-lateral air load exercise with the 1st Battallion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment from May 17-18.

As only one of two local nationals who are qualified aerial port expeditors, Namizato led the loading and unloading of a C-17 Globemaster III, while encouraging hands-on experience for the Japanese Self Defense Forces loading equipment onto the U.S. Air Force aircraft.

“Because I am a Japanese citizen and they are Japanese, I feel like I have a responsibility to ensure they get the best training to be able to complete these missions in a real-world situation,” Namizato said.

Members from the 15th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF), the 5th Air Defense Missile Group, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF), the 1-1 ADA and the 733rd AMS participated in the two-day exercise to practice the 1-1 ADA’s ability to conduct joint and bi-lateral air load operations. On the first day, participants conducted movement preparation assembly operations followed by a joint inspection conducted by the 733rd AMS. At the conclusion of the first day, a U.S. Patriot Launching Station, JGSDF Chu-SAM Launching Station and a JASDF Antenna Mast Group were certified ready to fly aboard a C-17.

“As an Army unit, we don’t have the resources to push our equipment by sea or air to South Korea and mainland Japan, so we absolutely rely on the 733rd AMS and other assets here at Kadena (Air Base) to make those missions happen,” said Lt. Col. Neal Lape, 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Regiment commander. “In order to be proficient at those tasks, we have to train and Takahiro is instrumental during those exercises, especially when we’re working bi-laterally with the JASDF and JGSDF.”

Before arriving at the special handling section one year ago, Namizato was working at the freight section for 12 years and was able to bring a wealth of experience with him.

“Takahiro brings the continuity that we need to this office,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Nunez, NCO in charge of special planning with the 733rd AMS. “He also helps to bridge the language barrier with our bi-lateral partners so we can focus on the task we’re assigned to do.”

When asked how he felt about receiving the Army Achievement medal, Namizato gave a humble answer.

“For me, I just want to get the job done and get it done correctly,” Namizato said. “I’m surprised I’m receiving the medal; I was just doing my job.”