News: Pilots tour MCAS Futenma during exchange
Story by Lance Cpl. David Hersey
OKINAWA, Japan - Nine pilots with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force toured Marine Aircraft Group 36’s hangar, and discussed the group’s functions and its facilities Feb. 21 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The visit began with a short introduction about 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and its mission. After learning about 1st MAW and its subordinate units, the JASDF officers toured a KC-130J Hercules aircraft and an MV-22B Osprey.
“We are giving them the chance to understand how we operate,” said Capt. James D. Wood, a KC-130 co-pilot with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, MAG-36, 1st MAW.
The visit was part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program, which is a successful way for the U.S. military and JSDF to better understand and support each other, according to Elena Takaho, the community relations specialist for MCAS Futenma.
The JASDF pilots also had the opportunity to experience aircraft simulators on the air station and learn about the training Marine pilots conduct regularly to ensure mission accomplishment and safety.
“This is the third time I’ve worked with the program,” said Wood. “I’m glad the event went well and the pilots got to see many aspects of the group.”
The pilots enjoyed their visit and look forward to future opportunities with the Marines, according to JASDF Maj. Katsuhiko Unno, one of the visiting pilots.
“The Marines are famous for being the first to go in and the last to leave,” said Unno. “I could feel that today.”
The visit provided the JASDF officers a chance to experience how Marines in the aircraft wing train to maintain and improve their skills while improving the relationship between the Marines and the JASDF.
“I’d say this visit was a complete success,” said Wood. “I like working with the Japanese officers and look forward to the next time they visit.”