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    Japanese officer makes history with 39th AS

    Japanese officer makes history with 39th AS

    Photo By 94th Airlift Wing | Japan Air Self-Defense Force Maj. Kentaro Mihara, an exchange pilot from Kanagaw,...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Kylee Gardner 

    7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

    An officer in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force recently became the first JASDF C-130J Super Hercules instructor pilot after completing extensive training through the Military Personnel Exchange Program
    Starting out as a new co-pilot from Kanagaw, Japan, Maj. Kentaro Mihara was assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron for approximately three years through the exchange program, which allows Airmen to serve as embedded officers in foreign nation air forces. He first arrived at the 39th AS in early 2016 and completed his exchange program tour in 2018.
    Mihara’s interest in aviation started early in life. Growing up, his father worked as a contractor between the government and the aerospace engineering business in Japan. Since then, Mihara’s interest in aviation lead him to make the decision to become a pilot, he explained.
    "My father was a huge influence on who I am today,” said Mihara. “His interest in flight fueled my own interest, and I thought that being a pilot was the best way to be involved in the aviation field."
    After spending 12 years in the JASDF, the exchange program allowed Mihara to work with Airmen at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Despite an eagerness for the opportunity, there were certainly adjustments he made as he moved with his family from Japan to West Texas.
    "The language was difficult at first; English is not an easy language. I had to focus on my pronunciation so that I could be understood,” said Mihara.
    The training program also differed from what he was accustomed to, he explained.
    “In the U.S. there is a lot more flexibility in how and when we can fly, which allowed me to train more efficiently,” said Mihara.
    When Mihara got to Dyess AFB, he first trained to become familiar with the aircraft and continued to develop as an exceptional pilot. During his first two years working with the U.S. Air Force, his hard work was recognized by his peers who then selected him to enter into instructor pilot upgrade training at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas.
    “The training was a grueling 12-week program where he passed both large formation flight lead and instructor upgrade programs,” said Lt. Col. Mark Yarian, 39th AS commander. “Ken aced them both, making him the first and only Japanese C-130J instructor pilot in the world.”
    As he excelled in his job and built working relationships with the Airmen of Dyess AFB, Mihara explained that his time in America was more than just work for him.
    "I have had an absolutely amazing time here at Dyess. The leadership has been outstanding and helped me in every way,” said Mihara. “I was immediately welcomed, and I truly feel like an American and a Texan here.”
    Although Mihara has since gone back to Japan with his family and resumed working for the JASDF, he has left a strong influence on the members of the 39th AS.
    “This was a historic event, and we are incredibly proud of him and his accomplishments,” said Yarian. “He has made a tremendous impact in our squadron and has honorably represented not only the 39th Airlift Squadron, but also his home country of Japan.”



    Date Taken: 07.30.2018
    Date Posted: 08.09.2018 13:07
    Story ID: 286326

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