Yokota Airmen support largest AMC exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Samantha White
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Hour after hour passed. The humidity was high and the air conditioning hardly worked, but the Airmen stayed put.

Rosters were made, beds prepped, rooms organized and checked, keys laid out and cots brought up, all that was missing were occupants.

The team of Airmen sat patiently in a dimly lit hallway awaiting the first surge of deployers to arrive.

The whole day had been a series of waiting due to weather and the sheer amount of people being unloaded from the planes onto buses.

At last, the sound of large engines could be heard. Buses filled with dozens of deployers each began rolling up to the contingency lodging front steps.

The travel-weary passengers were finally greeted with a smile and quick accommodations.

Yokota Air Base saw over 400 additional military members on the ground in July, with multiple concurrent exercises taking place in the Indo-Pacific region.

That’s where a team of Airmen from the 374th Force Support Squadron stepped in, coordinating and executing the bed down of incoming forces at Yokota.

“When Airmen deploy to Yokota, there’s a chance they’re going to plug into the high-quality services that our amazing team offers, like the award-winning Kanto Lodge,” said Lt. Col. Jordan Hayes, 374th FSS commander. “But with over 400 people on the ground for these exercises and permanent change of station season, lodging is tight. So what do we do when we surge? We use contingency quarters.”

The ability for Yokota to receive these hundreds of forces and its prime location in the Pacific, is what made it an ideal location to host the Air Mobility Command Japan spoke for Mobility Guardian 2023.

MG23 is a mobility exercise held across a 3,000-mile area, which is designed to deepen operational understanding between the U.S. and its allies and partners while bolstering their collective ability to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region. This year’s iteration is the largest in Air Mobility Command history with a total force of 15,000 personnel from seven participating countries.

“We opened the contingency quarters to house our deployed personnel,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Barragan, 374th FSS mortuary affairs technician. “As soon as the first people stepped off the arriving planes, we set them right up with a room. We wanted to make sure they had somewhere they could relax and get out of Japan’s hot, humid weather.”

The 374th FSS began their preparation for July’s multiple large-scale exercises months in advance by making projections, organizing room assignments, and connecting with the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, to ensure the buildings were ready to receive droves of forces.

“I really enjoyed the planning process,” said Tech. Sgt. Tai Ngo, 374th FSS NCOIC of readiness and plans. “I got to work with a lot of people, make new connections, learn more about our own process, and how to make things better.”

The role of the 374th FSS is felt daily throughout the base, but maybe not noticed because of how smooth their operations are, especially during major operations like this.

“We’re in the business of taking care of people,” said Ngo. “We take care of people throughout the whole spectrum, providing fitness facilities, lodging, dining, and so much more.”

Throughout the exercise surge, Yokota’s team of FSS Airmen worked well into the night. They continued past what was expected of them, until the very last group of deployers returned to homestation.

“It’s deeply personal to the Airmen who are here to prove we can execute airlift on a theater-wide scale,” said Hayes. “Whether it’s front-and-center or behind the scenes, the one thing you get in common are proud, committed FSS Airmen who are dedicated to taking care of you.”