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Yokota, JGSDF leaders exchange Co-Op awards May 26, 2023

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force leaders invited U.S. Air Force counterparts from the 374th Airlift Wing to a Defense Cooperation Award ceremony in honor of the collaborative efforts both parties have made to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan at Camp Narashino, Japan, May 25, 2023.

Maj. Gen. Junya Wakamatsu, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade commander, presented Defense Cooperation Awards to USAF Col. Andrew Roddan, 374th AW commander, USAF Col. Jun Oh, 374th Operations Group commander, and USAF Lt. Col. Kira Coffey, 36th Airlift Squadron commander.

“I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you who have attended today's ceremony,” Wakamatsu said. “I ask for your continued partnership in promoting cooperation between the United States and Japan — in particular between the U.S. Air Force and 1st Airborne Brigade.”

Wakamatsu lauded his counterparts and spoke of the contributions they helped provide to various exercises, such as Airborne 23 and Iron Fist 23, noting their actions have helped promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region by effectively deterring common adversaries.

The 374th AW leaders took the opportunity to recognize Capt. Kazuki Hasegawa, 1st Airborne Brigade operations and training officer, for his exceptional leadership and strategic focus during exercises Garuda Shield 22 and the New Year’s Drops 23.

“On behalf of the Airmen of the 36th Airlift Squadron, thank you for bestowing this honor upon us,” said Coffey. “Thank you also for sending your best — Captain Hasegawa — to collaborate with my team so that they could work together, learn together, and get after mutual objectives. It is because of young officers, Airmen and Soldiers alike, that I am confident that our alliance is in good hands and will have a bright future.”

Roddan, Oh, and Coffey also expressed gratitude to Wakamatsu and their JGSDF counterparts, thanking them for their support as they work together to improve interoperability and mutual trust.

Airmen from the 374th AW and Soldiers from the 1st Airborne Brigade are scheduled to conduct multiple bilateral and multilateral exercises together in the coming year, and in so doing will continue to improve the operational capabilities and cooperation between forces, ensuring the long-term relationship between the U.S. and Japan remains steadfast.