KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena Air Base and the Japan Air Self Defense Force collaborated on a contest using their Twitter pages to give followers a chance to win a tour of both bases. With roughly a 1 of 30 chance in winning, 10 people were selected to be part of a same-day tour of both Naha and Kadena Air Bases, May 8.
The winners consisted of individuals from Okinawa and mainland, Japan – all of who were aircraft enthusiasts. For most, base tours – especially two in one day—is a rare opportunity.
“It doesn’t happen everyday that you can get on both a U.S. Air Force base and a JASDF base, so I’m very happy about it,” said Mitsuki, a local of Yomitan Village. “I can feel peace about each one, Japan and the U.S.”
The tour began at Naha AB, where winners were given a briefing about the mission and F-15 Eagle aircraft. After their briefing, they were able to view a few aircraft and talk with aircrew. After a couple more stops on the JASDF base, the tour moved to Kadena.
The Kadena tour, similar to Naha, began with a briefing to help them better understand the layout and mission of the base and its units.
The tour not only provided a better understanding of each base and their mission, but also offered a more refined view of military members.
“I have visited Kadena many times in the sense that I was outside of the base looking in, but this is the first time being on the inside, said Tsuchiya, a follower from mainland. “I was very impressed by how friendly everybody in uniform was.”
The day ended with an in-depth look at a KC-135 Stratotanker and a full tour of the aircraft with aircrew from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron standing by to answer questions. Lastly, a walk through Peace Park to view static displays of previous 18th Wing aircraft provided insight on the history of the base.
While the base tours offered education and entertainment for the winners, it resulted in much more.
The experience provided an opportunity to display the importance of the U.S. and Japan’s relationship as partners and allies; it created a better understanding of the base’s roles in the Indo-Pacific as well as a sense of comfort and closeness for those in the surrounding communities.
“Before the base tour, Kadena Air Base, to me, was a far neighbor, but now that I have had this experience, Kadena Air Base has become a close neighbor,” Mitsuki said