Misawa Staff Sergeant receives JAAGA award

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tristan Caro, 35th Logistic Readiness Squadron air transportation function supervisor, received the annual Japan-American Air Force Goodwill Association (JAAGA) award, presented by Col. Jesse J. Friedel, 35th Fighter Wing commander, at Misawa Air Base on March 8, 2022.

JAAGA is presented to Airmen and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) members from Yokota, Kadena and Misawa Air Base, Japan, for their significant and recognizable contributions to the U.S. and Japanese alliance.

Caro was recognized as Misawa's 24th JAAGA award winner due to his dedication, attitude and outstanding contribution to Team Misawa over the course of four years.

His major contributions started in the summer of 2019 when Caro coordinated an airlift contract that enabled JASDF forces to deploy in support of Exercise RED FLAG, Alaska. This exercise allowed JASDF forces a chance to work with military forces from different nations in a multinational combat training for the first time in seven years. These training exercises are essential for both nations to increase readiness and continue evolving operationally. 

“The current international situation shows how important the U.S. and Japanese alliance is; I want to show my deepest gratitude and respect to both Koku-Jieitai and the USAF members for continuing to serve our two nations during these challenging days,” said Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, retired JASDF general and current JAAGA president. “The purpose of this award is to strengthen the partnership between our nations by recognizing the Japanese and U.S. members who made outstanding efforts in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the Koku-Jieitai and USAF.”

In the summer of 2021, Caro began extending his knowledge and experience as an air transportation function supervisor to members of the host nation.

He trained five JASDF personnel to properly inspect, prepare and palletize cargo to be moved onto U.S. aircraft. He ultimately helped his team to compete in multiple events at the Port DAWG Rodeo 2021 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam, Hawaii, securing first place.

“Caro trains people to be able to get equipment on aircraft quickly and efficiently; he helps JASDF move equipment out of Japan to another country where the mission needs to be executed," said Friedel. "His focus on teamwork, not just inside the United States, but in our bilateral relations, as we support and defend Japan, is why Caro has received the JAAGA award, and is an example of why we are the best.”

In response to the crash of a Japanese F-35 Lightning II in the spring of 2019, Caro was handpicked to coordinate with JASDF personnel and manage five different organizations during the initial debris clearing, ensuring smooth processes. Using the appropriate systems and resources, he sourced 20 tons of sensitive aircraft assets needed to safely ensure the wreckage was ready for shipment. 

“This award accurately reflects my four years here at Misawa AB: sharing special moments with JASDF and our Japanese counterparts in the logistics career field,” said Caro. “Their professionalism and dedication to learn are really what motivates me to continue working with them to accomplish our mission together, bilaterally. I would do it all over again.”