Virginia governor chats over breakfast with Tokyo-based US troops who have ties to his state
Stars and Stripes April 26, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The governor of Virginia, sometimes considered a likely presidential candidate in 2024, stopped at this U.S. airlift hub in western Tokyo on Wednesday to have breakfast with service members and others who have ties to his state.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican elected in 2021, spent about 1 ½ hours at the Samurai Cafe, including a stint in a hairnet and apron on the serving line.
“I wanted to make sure I came to Yokota to have a chance to visit Virginians who are serving our nation,” he told Stars and Stripes at the dining facility. “I also just want to say thank you and acknowledge the sacrifices and commitments that so many Virginians and Americans are making around the world to protect freedom.”
Youngkin is on a five-day trade mission to Asia that included a stop Monday in Taiwan, where he met with President Tsai Ing-wen, a visit likely to further irritate China, Virginia’s largest trading partner.
Youngkin goes next to South Korea, where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, was scheduled to visit this week during a four-country tour with a trade delegation from his state, according to a news release from DeSantis’ office.
DeSantis, considered a likely presidential contender, met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi during a two-day stay in Japan that began Monday, according to Japanese media.
Neither governor has officially announced their candidacy for the U.S. presidency.
Before sitting down to orange juice, a biscuit and bacon, Youngkin congratulated the Samurai Cafe staff for being named the best dining facility in the Air Force for the third consecutive year.
He exchanged gifts with base commander Col. Andrew Roddan, handing the colonel a set of custom cufflinks inscribed with the word “Virtus,” a Latin word for virtue, courage or manliness.
“If you ever get a moment to wear them, I want you to remember that the Commonwealth (of Virginia) was the heart and the cradle of our democracy,” Youngkin said.
Roddan in turn gave Youngkin a wooden case in the shape of the 374th Airlift Wing emblem. Inside was a challenge coin and a Month of the Military Child patch that was designed by students on the air base.
Youngkin chatted with 10 airmen, a Marine and two civilians over breakfast about international tension surrounding Taiwan, bringing professional sports teams to Virginia and the benefits for veterans of living in the state.
The governor then took a group photo with service members and presented each with a coin before departing the air base.
“I think it was an honor, honestly,” said Senior Airman Olivia Klotz, a Virginia native assigned to the 374th Comptroller Squadron. “I haven’t heard of any other governors coming down and having breakfast with military members, and I think that really attests to his character.”