YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 374th Airlift Wing Inspector General Office recently was awarded the Pacific Air Forces 2004 John P. Flynn Award for outstanding service and mission support.

Next up, in May, is the Air Force-wide competition during the Worldwide Inspector General Conference in the United States.

Col. Michael Koster, Yokota’s inspector general, credits Maj. Michael J. Mills and Master Sgt. Edwin E. Holland, who run the Complaints and Inquiry office, for the award.

Mills and Holland are “proactive by their very nature and are well-respected by their peers, so they’re effective,” Koster said.

Holland said an aggressive campaign to educate the base community helped reduce the number of complaints and investigations in 2004.

According to base officials, the IG’s mission includes evaluating critical areas essential for mission performance and serving as a tool for commanders to assess their units. They’re to expedite complaints resolution through investigations and education, and run a fraud, waste and abuse program.

Holland and Mills catch incoming personnel during the “Right Start” base introduction program. They also speak during the First Term Airmen Center Program — in which airmen at their first duty station are briefed on life in the service — and during noncommissioned officer and senior noncommissioned officer professional development courses.

Holland said to explain their mission to the younger troops, they use different strategies, incorporating “scenarios that are more interactive.”

Koster also said his staff has done a great job establishing contact with other base agencies, which might be better able than the IG’s office to address some people’s needs. Instead of saying, “No, that’s not an IG issue,” Koster said, his staff works at “getting people together to solve the problem.”

Professional and personal relationships are key to a strong IG office, Koster said.

He will send Mills, now on temporary duty, to the Air Force-wide conference in May.

Both Koster and Holland stressed the conference is a great place to network and to share ideas for improving their mission.

Holland said he’s received many calls since Yokota won the award.

“It only makes our individual offices better,” Holland said.

Koster also thanked 374th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Mark Schissler, saying the program can be only as successful as its commander allows.

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