USO Okinawa to salute outstanding troops during gala

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USO Okinawa to salute outstanding troops during gala

by: . | .
USO Okinawa | .
published: February 22, 2016

USO Okinawa will hold its 45th Annual Service Salute Gala on Feb. 27. During the black-tie event, seven servicemen and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Japan Self-Defense Forces will be honored for their outstanding professionalism, leadership and service to country. Here’s a look at these dedicated individuals.


United States Navy Honoree
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan A. Blue


Petty Officer Third Class Jonathan Blue was born in Augusta, Georgia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in July 2010 and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes in September 2010.  After graduation, he attended Hospital Corpsman “A” School, Behavior Health Technician “C” School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and Field Medical Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California

Petty Officer Blue reported to US Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida in October 2011.   During his tenure, he was responsible for maintaining a therapeutic environment for routine and acute mental health patients.  In January 2012 he deployed to Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and returned as a newly frocked Third Class Petty Officer.  Petty Officer Blue was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his outstanding performance of his duties.

In June 2014, Petty Officer Blue transferred to US Naval Hospital Okinawa.  He was selected as the Directorate of Mental Health Junior Sailor of the Quarter for the first, second and fourth quarter, and US Naval Hospital Okinawa Junior Sailor of the Quarter, fourth quarter fiscal year 2015.

United States Air Force Honoree
Staff Sergeant Clifford D. Crawford


SSgt Clifford Dylan Crawford is a Pararescueman Element Leader assigned to the 31st Rescue Squadron, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan.  The 31st Rescue Squadron is the only active duty ground technical rescue and recovery squadron in the Pacific and part of the largest operations group in the Air Force.

SSgt Crawford was born in Skiatook, Oklahoma, on 28 May 1992. He attended Skiatook High School and graduated as class Vice President in May 2010. During his time in high school he wrestled, served as student body president, was a member of Tulsa Future Leaders of America and founded the Skiatook Junior Chamber of Commerce. After high school graduation, SSgt Crawford joined the Air Force and began his career at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in the summer of 2010.  Immediately following basic training, he reported to the Pararescue Indoctrination Course and despite a 93% attrition rate he completed the Pararescue Pipeline thus earning the coveted beret in 2013.

United States Marine Corps Honoree
Sergeant Pedro. A. Borunda


Sergeant Pedro A. Borunda was born in Aurora, Colorado.  He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in August 2013 and completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California in October of 2013.  After graduation, he attended Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, California.  He reported to Combat Assault Battalion, Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan in June 2014 where he currently works as a Field Wireman &Tactical Switching Operator.

During his time on Okinawa Sgt. Borunda has supported multiple operations in the Philippines, South Korea and Fuji.  Sgt. Borunda has significantly impacted the overall readiness and productivity of the Communications Platoon. He sought out to assume the leadership roles as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the wire section of Combat Assault Battalion in order to take on greater challenges.

Sgt. Borunda was meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal, Corporal, and Sergeant and had been selected as Marine of the Quarter twice in his short career.

He was named the Fall 2014 Volunteer of the Quarter for USO Schwab, the Fall 2014 Volunteer of the Quarter for USO Okinawa, and the Fall 2014 Volunteer of the Quarter for the USO Pacific Region. As of January 2016, Sgt. Borunda has more than 1,000 hours logged with multiple USO locations in the Pacific.

His hobbies include volunteering and working out and he aspires to start working toward his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration this year.

United States Army Honoree
Specialist Kristin M. Tracey


After graduating from West Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with Emphasis in Policing, where she earned Honors in the National Society of Leadership and Success, Texas native Specialist Kristin M. Tracey enlisted into the Army on March 10, 2014. Specialist Tracey completed Basic Combat Training as the Distinguished Honor Graduate on May 24, 2014 and Advanced Individual Training on August 11, 2014 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where she was awarded the MOS 14T, Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer. She is currently assigned to HHB, 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion as the S3 DTMS Clerk. Her military education includes Digital Training Management System, Combatives Course, and the Combat Lifesaver Course.

 Specialist Tracey received two Certificates of Achievement for hard work and participation in the planning and executing of the Woman’s Heritage Observance and the Hispanic Heritage Month Observance. She has also been coined by the Battalion Commander for her work with the Bi-Lateral English program she facilitated and participated in throughout her time on Okinawa, and was also recognized at the State of Battalion in 2014. Her awards include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, The Army Service Ribbon and four Certificates of Achievement.

 Her hobbies include traveling, hiking, diving, and participating in mixed martial arts. She is currently in the process of preparing for the promotion board at the end of this month as well as attending the Basic Leader Course. She is looking into obtaining her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. SPC Tracey enjoys attending church, spending time with friends and staying physically fit. SPC Tracey’s goals are to become a Drill Sergeant, to become a federal employee and eventually do mission work in foreign countries.

Japanses Air Self-Defense Force Honoree
Technical Sergeant Hironori Tanaka


Technical Sergeant Hironori Tanak was born in Komatsu-city, Ishikawa on September 25, 1971.  In March, 1997, he entered the Air Self-Defense Force and was assigned to the Naha Air Base.  He took up a job leaving his family behind in Ashiya Air Base for three years and then became the Naha Base duty in August 2012 to present-day.  

His hobbies are road biking, surfing, skateboarding, radio control and
plastic model hobby kits. Recently, he cycled in a race called "Century Run 2016,” a 100km course around Northern Okinawa.

Technical Sergeant Hironori Tanak’s wife of 30 years, Nariko, is from Itoman City, Okinawa.  She serves a local school after graduation in the Itoman-city government office. They have three sons together, Yuki, Haruki, and Atsuki.

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Honoree
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ayako Henmi


Petty Officer 2nd Class Ayako Henmi is currently serving in the Accounting Division on Naval Air Station Naha. She is a native of Okinawa prefecture, born in 1978. She enlisted in the
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force in March 1998 and completed basic training at Recruit Training Center Yokosuka, Kanagawa. After Recruit Training she attended Headquarters Sasebo District, then Sasebo Recruit Training Center, Base Service Activity Sasebo and presently performs duty on Air Station Naha.

Petty officer Henmi has a superior knowledge for welfare and accounting; therefore, contributively works welfare service for service members to this day. She also attends a local FM radio program to inform Self Defense Force activity to Okinawa people. She is a member of the Tea Ceremony Club on base and also volunteers with beach cleanup, the Koinobori rise event at Peace Park and Syurijyo carnival.

Petty officer Henmi is married to Syuji Henmi, JMSDF Civilian. They have a son named Koki who is nine years old, and a daughter named Kimika who is eight years old.

Petty Officer Henmi is an outstanding role model of other JMSDF members.

 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Sergeant First Class Yuji Nakamura


A native of Kanda-machi, Fukuoka prefecture, SFC Yuji Nakamura enlisted into JGSDF in March, 1994. Upon finishing basic trainings in September, 1996, he reported to Headquarters & Service Company, the 3rd Antiaircraft Artillery Group, in Fukuoka Prefecture. He has served as medic, assistant to Command Sergeant Major, drill sergeant, and supply NCO.

In March 2011, he participated in disaster relief operation of Great East Japan Earthquake and accomplished his long-term missions. In addition, in 2011 from July to November, he was assigned to a general support unit to support the Annual Service Practice of HAWK missile unit held at McGregor Range, New Mexico, as supply NCO he contributed to success of this training.

SFC Nakamura was transferred to Okinawa in March, 2013, and currently works at S-4, 15th Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment, as a vehicle management NCO. Besides his usual duties, he has spent a lot of time for volunteer activities, such as Mabuni peace memorial park cleaning, Naha, Okinawa, Syohashi marathon water supply activity and Koinobori (carp streamer) event support. Moreover, he has ever participated in various exchange programs, as interpreter and made an effort for the deepening of the mutual understanding between U.S. Forces Okinawa and Self-Defense Force.   

As described above, SFC Nakamura has contributed to strengthening of the relationship with U.S. forces Okinawa and local community and security foundation with distinguished ambition and outstanding activity to take action.

He is living away from his family for work, but his current greatest concern is watching his daughter’s growing with the aim of becoming a pianist.