Elena Takaho

Elena Takaho (Photo courtesy of 10th Support Group Public Affairs)

On a regular basis, the 10th Support Group depends on the cultural expertise and political know-how Elena Takaho has developed over the past 38 years of service to both the U.S. and Japanese governments.

As the 10th SG’s political advisor, Takaho helps the Army navigate through many important events and meetings with positive and professional outcomes.

Back in 1977, a recently graduated Takaho set out into the workforce. With a strong work ethic, fast typing abilities, and bilingual skills, she nabbed one of the coveted Master Labor Contractor positions at nearby Camp Foster. Takaho started her long career as an administrative specialist

“Even back in those days, jobs on base were good, steady, and well-paying jobs. I was excited and felt fortunate to have the opportunity,” Takaho said.

Takaho worked for six years with the Marine Corps at Camp Foster until 1983 when she took a job at the U.S. Naval Hospital as a travel clerk at Camp Lester. Within three years, her adventurous and independent spirit got the better of her and she bought a one-way ticket to Tokyo and signed on with a large American realty investments corporation. Within a few years, she was recruited to be an executive secretary to the director of client service of a large American advertisement group. Times were good, Japan was in the midst of an economic bubble that seemed to have a never-ending rise. Takaho rented an apartment near Yokohama and used the commute to cycle the more than 40-kilometer roundtrip daily in time to get to the 7 a.m. aerobics class before work.

“I hated the jam-packed train commute. So I used the location to my advantage to do something I love,” she said.

After nine years in Tokyo, family situations urged her back to Okinawa. She packed her things in Yokohama and returned. In October 1995, Takaho resumed her career for the government as an MLC with the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s, Morale Welfare and Recreation office as an administrative specialist. Within two years she was promoted to training technician with the renamed Marine Corps Community Services Department at Camp Foster.

After two years of being a training technician, she seized the opportunity to move into the role of community relations specialist for the Office of the Commanding Officer for MCAS Futenma. During her 14 years there, Futenma was embroiled in the political back-and-forth that has routinely plagued the site due to its history and location. Takaho cut her teeth in the community relations and political realm there and honed her prowess in helping the command team navigate difficult community/base tensions. Takaho earned experience in Futenma’s politically charged environment while handling high-level visits, with prime ministers, and foreign ministry personnel. various ambassadors, mayors, ward chiefs, and other community leaders.

According to Takaho, one program that stands out in her mind fondly is the Volunteer English Teaching Assistance Program. She felt pride in the ongoing success of that program coordinating Marine Corps volunteers to teach English at numerous elementary schools in Ginowan City. The pilot program, which was thought to only last a couple of years went on for a decade from 2000 to 2010.

In June 2013, Takaho left the USMC and rose to the position of Political Advisor for the U.S. Army’s 10th Regional Support Group Command Group located at Torii Station in Yomitan. For the past 11 years with the Army, Takaho’s expertise has guided the Army through many high-level events and meetings assisting with maintaining community/base relations in various ways.

“I look back on my career and have many fond memories of events and people who I have interacted with along the way,” she said.

Elena Takaho

Elena Takaho (Photo courtesy of 10th Support Group Public Affairs)

Takaho’s life hasn’t always been solely dedicated to work or family, she has always taken great pride in fitness. Early in life, she had aspirations of being a professional athlete. Some locals speculated and rumored that she might be an Olympiad in training. While on a long vacation from Tokyo, she would wake up and jog several miles from her home to Zanpa Beach where she would jump in the ocean and swim a long distance along the coast and then jog home. Takaho also looks back on her 18 consecutive finishes in the Naha marathon. The only reason she stopped at 18 was due to the race’s cancellation because of COVID. Early in life, Takaho had aspirations of being a pro athlete. According to her, the last thing she ever saw herself doing was desk work. Fitness goals have kept her going all these years. Early in her career, she was the only female to join a Karate dojo near work and earned a black belt before moving on to other fitness adventures. “One of the reasons I moved on to something new was because my arms were getting too big and muscular for my blouses,” she said with a chuckle.

Takaho’s adventurous spirit over the years, combined with her dedication to her job has always been at the forefront. “I flew to San Diego and rode elephants at the zoo. I hiked to the top of Mount Fuji, I joined a motorcycle group, and also did solo rides from Yokohama to Niigata prefecture,” She said. Earlier in life at the age of 16, Takaho was one of the first females in Okinawa to receive a motorcycle license.

“Okinawa is a wonderful place, but very small. Some of my siblings were off doing great things around the world, I wanted to go see some of the excitement for myself and explore the big city. I saw Madonna in concert. Work was never easy in Tokyo, hours were very long, but they were challenging and rewarding” Takaho explained.

After a lifetime of experiences and memories, Takaho is set to retire at the end of June 2024. Her first priority is to care for her elderly mother, but she is also in planning mode to rent a motorcycle and ride a ring around all of Japan’s mainland (Honshu) and Hokkaido.

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