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ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Army 10th Area Support Group from Torii Station, Okinawa, was the only overseas installation to garner top honors Friday during a Pentagon ceremony announcing the service winners of the Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence.

Torii Station was the Army’s choice for the best installation worldwide for the 2003 contest, which was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Each service has its own competition for best installation, and the Defense Logistics Agency has one, too.

Col. Gary Longhany, the 10th ASG commander, will take home a silver trophy, a Center of Excellence flag, and most important, an extra $3 million to spend on quality-of-life improvements in 2004.

In an interview after the ceremony, Kenneth Spink, Torii’s garrison manager, said Torii staff “is soliciting ideas from all over the community” for ways to spend the money. A committee will meet later this summer to decide which projects will get the nod.

Suggestions have ranged from new gym equipment to kitchenettes in the barracks, Spink said.

“I think we have $6 million worth of ideas,” he said.

Spink said the award is especially pleasing to the 1,000 American and Japanese personnel who are involved in running Torii when they consider the special challenges involved with the Okinawa location.

U.S. installations, Spink said, often have the support of local community members, as well as members of Congress in whose districts the bases lie. But Okinawans, while cordial to U.S. military personnel, “would rather we weren’t here,” Spink said.

“We have some real challenges overseas,” he said. “We don’t have that community support … and the pipeline [from the States for supplies] is very long.”

Other winners of this year’s award are Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, N.C., the seventh time the base has won the award; Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Fla., which now has won three times; Hurlburt Field, Fla., home to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command; and the Defense Supply Center at Philadelphia.

The last time an overseas Army installation won the award was in 1987, when it went to the Mainz Military Community in Germany. Camp Butler, Okinawa, won a Marine award in 1988, while the Navy has tapped Yokosuka, Japan, three times in the past, WESTPAC, Guam, in 1985, and Sigonella, Italy, in 2001.

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