USFJ Commander presents medals to JASDF rescue crew

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Smith
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez visited Naha Air Base, Japan, Oct. 15th, to recognize members of the Naha Air Rescue Squadron, Southwestern Air Defense Force, for their heroic actions.

On June 11th, a pilot stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, had to eject from his F-15C and landed in the ocean. The Japan Air Self Defense Force was there to help and played a crucial role in saving his life.

“It was a very dangerous situation for him, and the Japanese response was immediate,” Martinez explained. “They got to him, provided medical care and got him to a hospital and saved our pilot’s life.”

Martinez began his visit by attending a briefing with both U.S. Air Force leadership and JASDF leadership to better understand the structure and mission of the Naha rescue squadron.

“We have to be able to understand what the Japanese are doing – they have to understand what we’re doing and having that interoperability between our forces is going to give us great combat power in the Indo-Pacific region,” he explained.

After the briefing, he was able to thank everyone for their actions – from the pararescuemen to the aircraft maintainers.

“I talked to them about their mission and how they support U.S. Forces in Japan, and certainly, I thanked the entire leadership and their squadron for doing what they did,” Martinez said.

He concluded his visit with an award ceremony to recognize the individuals who played a part in the rescue by presenting them with U.S. Air Force medals for their life-saving actions.

“It was an honor to present numerous medals to the people who saved our pilot’s life,” Martinez expressed. “For that, I am forever grateful.”

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