The Interpreters behind the scenes, keeping Cope North 24 running smoothly

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gerald Willis
  • Pacific Air Forces

Born in Japan, where she lived until she was 21, Senior Amn. Yayoi Brown is using her skills as a fluent Japanese speaker to break down communication barriers during Cope North 24.

U.S. service members are currently working hand-in-hand with Japanese, Korean, French, Canadian and Australian service members, practicing interoperability during large force employment.

Without interpreters, incorporating multiple nations during fast-paced Air Operations would be near impossible.

“It has been an awesome experience getting to use my skills to support Cope North,” said Senior Amn. Yayoi Brown. “This opportunity to participate in the exercise has opened my eyes to a completely different side of the Air Force.”

Not her full-time job, Brown is a Services troop, currently working in the Dining Facility at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and volunteered her skills during one of Pacific Air Forces’ largest multinational exercises.

“Being from Japan, I know the Japanese culture and values which helps me to bridge the gap between English and Japanese speakers,” said Brown.

It has not always been easy and Brown has a unique view of the exercise, seeing both the U.S. and Japanese perspective on operations.

“The most challenging part is definitely the terminology, while Japanese is my first language and I’m fluent in English, each job has different terminology and acronyms,” said Brown. “I overcame the same language barriers when I was learning English, and now I can use that experience to better help others.”

As the exercise moves forward so do the relationships between the service members.

“Tuesday was better than Monday, Wednesday was better than the last two days and I am expecting today to be even better,” said Brown. “It is exciting to see everybody working together and I'm happy to be a part of that.”

Brown became a U.S. citizen when she was 19 years old, marrying an Airman based at Yokota and joining the Air Force herself in 2020. Her journey has taken her around the world and she still has a lot to accomplish.

“I love my job in services and have learned so much, but I’m about one year from completing my bachelors in a STEM field and would like to commission,” said Brown.

Brown has been at many major events during the exercise and the Trilateral Exercise Coordination Organization (TECO) had this to say about the interpreter team.

“The countless hours the interpreters have dedicated to the exercise have not gone unnoticed,” said Lt. Col. David Overstreet, Cope North 24 lead planner. “Cope North continues to be the premier event in the Second Island Chain to practice large force employments with our Allies and partners. This is made possible through the efforts of every interpreter here.”