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PACAF recognizes support by Japan

  • Published
  • By Capt. Teresa Sullivan
  • 35th Fighter Wing public affairs
 The commander of Pacific Air Forces recognized the mayor of Misawa City for his dedicated service to the U.S.-Japan alliance by presenting him with an Air Force award Jan. 31 in front of approximately 100 civic leaders at city hall here.

Gen. Paul V. Hester, the PACAF commander, presented Mayor Shigeyoshi Suzuki the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award in a surprise ceremony.

The award was approved by the secretary of the Air Force and was presented to the mayor as former 35th Fighter Wing commanders, Lt. Gen. Loyd S. Utterback, the 13th Air Force commander; Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, the 5th Air Force and United States Forces Japan commander; and Col. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the current 35th FW commander; looked on.

"This morning I'd like to present this award to the mayor for his service to the alliance," the general said to the crowd. "The success of our former commanders and the relationships we enjoy in Misawa today happen because of the environment set here by your mayor. Co-existence and co-prosperity is his policy and it's not just a slogan. Those words come from the heart."

When elected in 1987, the mayor, who represents a city of 40,000, instituted his "co-existence and co-prosperity" policy, which has set Misawa City and the base apart as a benchmark for community relations in PACAF, according to the general.

Mayor Suzuki has supported countless initiatives to promote awareness and understanding during his tenure. Some of these include the annual Air Fest, Japan Day and American Day attracting hundreds of thousands of people eager to participate in cultural exchanges, and the American Village project, a multi-million dollar plan to build an area in town that will provide services and franchises to remind Americans of home.

For the mayor and the city, the award will be remembered as a memorial event and one he'll place in the history books at the city offices, said the mayor.

"It is a great honor for me to get a medal from General Hester," said the mayor. "I didn't expect this honor."

The mayor went on to emphasize his policy of co-existence and co-prosperity and how this award wasn't earned only by him, but the people of Misawa City and its history of positive relations with the base.

The wing has a lineage of successful commanders who have gone on to lead the Air Force in the Pacific, and a lot of that is due to the leadership and mentorship of Mayor Suzuki, General Hester said.

"Families come to Misawa and are welcomed into your family," General Hester said to the mayor. "When we have to leave here, we leave with heavy hearts. We take the spirit and joy of Misawa and share it with others so that Misawa is known both far and wide. We came here today to say a big thank you for all you've done for us."

Mayor Suzuki was recently elected for his sixth term as the mayor of Misawa City.