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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Col. Mark Schissler paused Friday to show his appreciation for Yokota’s Japanese employees during a commander’s call designed to provide basic information and foster familiarity with the base leadership.

The event, held at the base theater, was split into morning and afternoon sessions. About 600 people turned out for the briefings.

“They don’t get many chances to come together as a full group to hear about employee information,” said Mieko Morita, a 374th Airlift Wing spokeswoman. “

And even though they work for the squadrons, they really don’t know very much about the leadership and who the commanders are.”

Schissler, the 374th Airlift Wing commander who conducts regular calls for Yokota’s active-duty servicemembers, launched the Japanese version a year ago to strengthen the bond shared by the two nations.

On Friday, he also presented various Pacific Air Forces and Defense Department awards to a handful of Japanese employees.

“After I got here, I looked at the command and mission groups and realized there was no effort in place to show the Japanese employees how important they are to our mission,” Schissler said.

“I think it’s crucial for them to know who the commanders are. We bring them together for the same reasons we do the regular commander’s calls.

“It was very well-received last year. This is just a step better. We wanted to provide a useful hour for them — show them some helpful information and recognize a few individuals for their important contributions to the base.”

The wing’s four group commanders — Col. Carlton Everhart, operations; Col. William Story, mission support; Col. Michael Dillard, maintenance; and Col. Mark Presson, medical — each got an opportunity to address the Japanese employees.

Representatives from the personnel and contracting offices discussed job-related issues such as worker’s compensation, sick leave, overtime and medical contacts.

The gathering also heard from the Japan Welfare Association, which provides various services and operates the restaurant, barbershop and mini-mall in Building 994 near Yokota’s Supply Gate.

The base employs about 2,000 Japanese nationals. Schissler praised their contributions to the Yokota mission.

“We cannot do the mission of the base without them,” he said. “They fill key leadership, management and labor positions on base that make our daily operations possible.”

Schissler said base officials would be offering tours of Yokota to Japanese employees in the near future.

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