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Airman thanks Yokota educators for 50 years of service with combat flag

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Doan
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A combat flag, recently flown over Syria, was presented to Yokota High School during a ceremony on May 11, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, honoring the last 50 years YHS educators have dedicated to providing military-affiliated students with the foundation they need for their future success.

The flag was flown by members of the 8th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron on March 8, 2023, aboard a C-17 Globemaster III, deployed from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Melia Okamoto, YHS Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, delivered opening remarks for the event, emphasizing the significance of the flag, which was presented by Senior Airman Michael McDougall, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and YHS class of 2018 alumnus.

“Today, Michael presents us with a battle flag flown over a combat zone in Syria, symbolizing the courage, sacrifice, and dedication of our service members who defend our great nation,” said Okamoto. “Moreover, this flag pays tribute to the exceptional educators and staff who have inspired generations of Yokota High School students.”

Before the presentation of the flag, McDougall took the podium to express his gratitude to the staff of YHS, thanking them for their contributions to his success.

“This flag presented today was flown on our aircraft as part of my squadron's flag program, to specifically honor educators,” said McDougall. “This program can be used to recognize both individuals and organizations, and I can think of no one more deserving than the staff of YHS. Personally, I would like to thank each one of you who taught me and helped me become the person that I am today.”

YHS first opened its doors in 1973 and currently educates 286 students, striving to mold them into independent thinkers and lifelong learners in a safe, academically inspiring environment.