Kadena's 18th Force Support Squadron brings home another annual "Best in PACAF'
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Force Support Squadron's mission is to take care of Kadena's Airmen, and they have the awards to prove their success.
By caring for the American military community on the island, the entire 18th FSS has earned 'Best in Pacific Air Forces' four years running, and miscellaneous accolades for individuals and teams within their squadron.
"(We have) 54,000 customers on Okinawa (from) 13 military installations," said Gordon Murdock, 18th FSS marketing manager. "They are all our customers (in one way) or another: everyone eats three meals a day and people find themselves on Kadena to shop at (the) base exchange or commissary. Kadena seems to be a focal installation and we know that nearly every status of forces agreement person will eventually be our customer."
Being able to rely on base programs is necessary for the concentrated American forces on Okinawa to function smoothly. Needs vary between individuals and families, but the FSS has something for everyone.
"Our mission is directly tied to the resilience of our Airmen and their capability to focus on their job," said Col. Kathleen Weatherspoon, 18th FSS commander. "We care for children, we help people stay fit, we provide recreation, cultural experiences, professional development, a multitude of places to eat, a place to sleep, job opportunities and career counseling. You name it, most likely we do it."
Given that the 18th FSS provides morale, welfare and recreation for such a multitude of people, the squadron itself is the largest in the Air Force. All 2,400 personnel are dedicated to making lives better.
Besides organizing activities, part of that mission is making sure military families on Okinawa know which events are available when.
"'Venture Magazine' is only so big and can't fit everything we do," said Murdock. "We have literally hundreds and hundreds of activities a month and we can only fit (approximately 170) events in 'Venture Magazine.' We added a new calendar (to the Kadena FSS website). You can see the entire squadron and all 800 things in a month, or you can see just the stuff that interests you. We (have also added) an email service where you tell us exactly what you want hear about and you'll only get one email a week (with) everything you said you wanted and nothing more."
Many of those events are free for the military community, but some do have a fee. However, that money is given back to make life on this island better.
"One hundred percent of our profit goes back into the community," said Murdock. "We consider those airmen's dollars." Every cent is accounted for and returned back into the Kadena community. He mentioned Karing Kennels as being built with profits generated from business activities, along with the golf pro-shops on Kadena and Chibana. Free concerts are held several times a year, and projects on the way include a new NCO Club in 2015 and a new Outdoor Recreation to come in a few years.
Even with another year of 'Best in PACAF' secured, the FSS's work is never done. The squadron strives to constantly be the best at what they do: make lives better.