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Misawa travel office, community center win best in Air Force

Miyuki Taneichi, left, and Miyako Sugiyama, right, pose for a photo in front of the 35th Force Support Squadron’s Community Center and Information, Tickets & Travel offices at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 4, 2016. Miyuki is the Community Center acting director and Miyako is the ITT manager. The two 35th FSS programs each won 2015 Best in the Air Force as A1 programs bringing the award home to Misawa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

Miyuki Taneichi, left, and Miyako Sugiyama, right, pose for a photo in front of the 35th Force Support Squadron’s Community Center and Information, Tickets & Travel offices at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 4, 2016. Miyuki is the Community Center acting director and Miyako is the ITT manager. The two 35th FSS programs each won 2015 Best in the Air Force as A1 programs bringing the award home to Misawa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa Air Base is no stranger to Air Force-level awards and has two new additions with the 35th Force Support Squadron’s Community Center and Information, Tickets & Travel offices garnering a 2015 A1 Program of the Year award for their dedication to the Misawa community.

“We didn’t do anything special,” said Miyako Sugiyama, the ITT manager and Misawa City, Japan, native, with more than six years serving the Misawa AB community. “We just continued doing what we’ve always done: work hard and focus on providing the best possible service to our community…our friends.”

Miyako said she couldn’t have crafted such a successful program alone, attributing much of ITT’s success to the relationships she’s built with organizations from across the base including the 35th FSS’s other winner: the Misawa Community Center.

“We’ve enjoyed working together and networking with Americans and Japanese alike who all support our mission in some aspect of their respective fields,” said Miyuki Taneichi, a Community Center program specialist and acting director from a small town just outside of Misawa City.

In 2015, ITT led 134 trips and traveled 15.4 million miles with 13,000 customers from across the installation. They coordinated tours to places from as far as the Great Wall of China to Mount Fuji and the Sapporo Ice Festival, and lobbied for and purchased a brand-new 41-passenger bus increasing their tour capacity by 15 percent.

“This is why ITT earned the award,” said Matthew Jobe, the 35th FSS community services flight chief.

Not only did ITT surpass Jobe’s expectations, but he said to have another section in his flight take home a trophy is amazing.

“In 2015, the Community Center team went above and beyond to bring family-friendly programs to the Misawa community,” Jobe explained. “The team brought in Tops in Blue, Sesame Street, eight free musical performances and led the American Day entertainment. They ran the Omnicon event, added a family-friendly Halloween, July Fourth, Winterfest, and Easter events, and secured the first-ever on-base vehicle insurance office at the Weasel’s Den.”

Jobe said the Community Center also hosted quarterly deployed spouses and family dinner events and introduced a birthday party program with 46 parties the first year.

“This team is capable of making anything happen…and they did exactly that [with these awards] in 2015; we’re extremely proud!” he said excitedly.

The ITT team is comprised of the following members: Miyako, Emily Babineau, Tanya Bose, Heather Bandy, Izumi Field, Megumi Anderson, Mari Do, Atsuko Sweet and Yukiko Bricker.

The Community Center team is comprised of: Anna Davis (former director), Miyuki, Ariane Willis and Lindsey Field.

“This has been an especially great opportunity for me,” Miyuki said. “I’ve learned so much more that I didn’t know about my own Japanese culture by coming up with ways to relate that culture with the Americans. There’s always a cultural exchange and it’s fun learning about their background while sharing mine with them.”

Miyuki said, for instance, that Americans like to laugh out loud during movies at public theaters, whereas, Japanese keep to themselves and try to keep quiet, as if they were at a library.

“It’s the small things that can really make a difference,” she said. “We do this for all of Team Misawa, from the service members and their families to local national and American contractors. It doesn’t matter where you work or where you’re from, our services are here for you to enjoy.”

Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in D.C., said the FSS plays a significant and critical role in developing and caring for all Airmen and their families through outstanding support programs.

“Undoubtedly, the support efforts of each FSS have a clear and direct impact on overall mission success,” the general continued. “While we recognize our exceptional performers, we also highlight their fine example for others to follow. Our goal is to recognize the very best of our A1 programs and people.”

“The value added to this community by these two activities is truly amazing,” Jobe added. “They never stop caring for and providing top-notch opportunities for everyone. We are fortunate to have these teams working for Misawa.”

The feeling is mutual for Miyuki and Miyako who said they couldn’t be happier sharing their time and lives working with the Misawa community and service members stationed here.

“If we can enjoy the job, we can give good service to you and help you enjoy your time at Misawa,” Miyako said. “It’s all about keeping a positive attitude--something we’ve learned from working with the Americans.”