by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
3/2/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Twenty
four U.S. and Japan Air Self-Defense Force members met for the first
time at Yokota's Enlisted Club for the start of the 2015 NCO exchange
program Feb. 17.
The 10-day program pairs JASDF members from multiple bases around Japan
with U.S. personnel to get a better understanding of the various
missions at Yokota and experience a different culture.
The program pairs individuals from each service based on their career fields.
"The program has been great," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jason
Hemphill, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief lead
technician. "We've really gotten to know each other, and we've talked
about our different jobs and how similar and different they are. I'm
fairly new to this base, and I've been able to ask them a lot about
their culture and tell them about ours."
By participating in events like these, U.S. service members get to know the person behind the uniform.
"This helps break down the cultural barriers," Hemphill said. "We get to
know these guys on a personal level. It allows us to open up to each
There's talk about family, culture, their jobs and the one thing that everyone can talk about: food.
"I learned from Hemphill a great barbeque recipe," said JASDF Tech. Sgt.
Takenobu Masuda, Central Air Defense Force 7th Air Wing. "In exchange, I
taught him a recipe for ramen. I also was able to try banana pudding,
which I thought was amazing."
Overall, the program has been a big hit for those who took part.
"I think the experience has been invaluable," Hemphill said. "It's not
something you can go and pay for. It's been an honor to experience it."