Bilateral vehicle maintainers keep Misawa’s trucks roadworthy

Focus pocus

Iwama Katsuyoshi, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron automotive body and fender repairer, removes rust from a vehicle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 18, 2018. Since rust can affect the quarter panels of a vehicle, it must be shaved off to protect the integrity of the car. Katsuyoshi works side-by-side with his American counterparts in the 35th LRS vehicle maintenance shop, keeping Misawa’s vehicles on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

Rust is not a must

Iwama Katsuyoshi, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron automotive body and fender repairer, removes rust off a vehicle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 18, 2018. The 35th LRS allied trade and body shop has provided vehicle repairs for Team Misawa members for more than 30 years and fixes corrosion on broken vehicles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

Auto shop

Iwama Katsuyoshi, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron automotive body and fender repairer, removes rust from a vehicle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 18, 2018. Rust on fuel pipes, the frame of the car or brake lines can be a safety hazard. If these portions of the car become weak, the car can fall apart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

Hard in the paint

Sasaki Yasuhiro, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron automotive body and fender repairer, applies undercoat to a vehicle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 18, 2018. Undercoating solution prevents rust from forming, which can completely ruin the integrity of the car. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Working side-by-side, U.S. Air Force Airmen and their Japanese national counterparts in the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron allied trade and body shop provide 24-to-48 hour repairs to Team Misawa's fleet of vehicles on the road.

“Fixing vehicles for customers gives me a sense of accomplishment,” said Sasaki Shinichi, an automotive body and fender repair technician, who has worked with 35th LRS Airmen for 27 years. “Working on base at the shop is a unique experience because we have to fix vehicles in a certain timeframe and under a budget.”

Shinichi went to a technical school where he graduated as a machinist.

“I used to work in allied trades as a mechanic,” said Shinichi. “I applied for a machinist position at Misawa and was fortunate enough to keep doing something I love.”

In addition to regular maintenance requests, the body shop conducts summer rebuilds for the installation’s fleet of snow vehicles. The bilateral team preps, rebuilds and repairs the 73 machines within a six-month period for the winter.

Similar to Shinichi, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Deonta Holloway, a 35th LRS vehicle maintenance journeyman, loves his career field; however, he never expected this to be his life following basic military training.

“I had no mechanical background coming into the Air Force,” Holloway recalled. “This was a wild exploration and a plunge into something new for me. It was hard to learn everything because it’s a fast-paced job; I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience.”

Despite the challenges of learning a new career field, Holloway discovered some aspects he fell in love with.

“My favorite part of vehicle maintenance is body shop work,” said Holloway. “Seeing work get done in a timely manner and being included is rewarding. We see the vehicle come in bad shape and view the finished product. I see how I affect the mission because the vehicles would not be working without our repair shop.”

The pride of knowing the shop has made a difference is not only personally gratifying but continues shows through their timely repairs.

“Unfortunately, winter is our busy time of the year due to numerous accidents and vehicle corrosion,” described Holloway. “We're focused on being able to get vehicles up in a timely fashion with customers not waiting months for parts. A faster turnaround time means better quality service and a cut down cost.”

Even though they come from different backgrounds and cultures, Shinichi and Holloway remain focused on keeping Misawa’s vehicles road-ready, every day, together as one team.