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Col. Sam Angelella, 35th Fighter Wing commander at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will be promoted to brigadier general on Dec. 27 at a one-star pinning ceremony at the Tohoku Enlisted Club.
Col. Sam Angelella, 35th Fighter Wing commander at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will be promoted to brigadier general on Dec. 27 at a one-star pinning ceremony at the Tohoku Enlisted Club. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Col. Sam Angelella, 35th Fighter Wing commander here, will start the New Year with a starry look: On Dec. 27, almost four months to the day since he took the wing’s reins, he will be promoted to brigadier general in a ceremony at the Tohoku Enlisted Club.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, and Angelella’s wife Marci will pin on his star. The 2 p.m. ceremony is open to the public.

In an interview Thursday, Angelella said he’s looking forward to 2006, though Misawa airmen and family members shouldn’t expect any dramatic changes.

“Our goals … will be able to meet our commitments with zero mishaps, very simple,” Angelella said. “To do that, we’re going to take care of our people and we are going to continue to enhance our mission here of readiness, stewardship and fairness.”

Angelella said he’s happy with how the wing closed out the year, pointing as examples of recent successes to four senior master sergeants selected for promotion to E-9 and the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron earning an Air Force-level award for snow removal. Angelella said he’s proud the wing completed its annual flying hour program in September despite some challenges.

“Because of our fiscal responsibilities to (Central Command Area of Responsibility) and the global war on terrorism, we switched from ‘flying hour program’ to ‘watching the dollars,’” Angelella said. “We got to the point where we started to run out of money before we were going to finish our flying-hour commitment. [Pacific Air Forces] came through … and gave us the extra money to finish our program … to pay for fuel, supplies, flying hours.”

The flying hour program — set up to ensure Misawa’s F-16 fighter pilots maintain combat readiness — is off to a fast start this fiscal year, with required hours and sorties flown exceeding expectations in October and November, the wing commander said. Considering Misawa’s austere environment, “it’s a little unusual,” he said.

“Just this last week, we lost our first sorties due to inclement weather. We’ll have opportunities to reprogram flying hours if we’re too far ahead or too far behind.”

Misawa in 2006 will continue to encourage Patriot Express use in an effort to salvage the passenger flights to and from the West Coast, Angelella said. He noted that Patriot Express travel is mandatory for temporary duty or permanent-change-of-station assignments unless there’s a justifiable mission impact.

“The target is 60 to 70 percent ridership and we’re not there yet,” Angelella said.

The Los Angeles and Seattle-Tacoma Patriot Express gateways closed Sept. 30 as part of a worldwide scaling back of the military-chartered commercial air service.

However, a handful of airmen from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., are maintaining a scaled-down service at Seattle-Tacoma to support weekly Japan missions on a one-year trial basis to Misawa and Yokota air bases and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, according to Air Force officials.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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