YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — With tears in his eyes, Col. Scott Goodwin, the outgoing 374th Airlift Wing commander, bade farewell to his troops during a change-of-command ceremony Thursday.
“The Samurai Warriors: You are an incredible group of airmen,” he said. “It has been a pleasure to serve alongside you.”
During the ceremony, members of the Yokota community welcomed Col. John F. Newell III as the new wing commander.
When Goodwin arrived at Yokota, he stressed three key pillars of his commander’s intent: mission, people and community.
“I’m very proud of what the wing has accomplished over the past two years,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I think we’ve made great strides in all three areas.”
Providing 100 percent of Pacific Command’s C-130 commitment to the Central Command area of operation, while also having more than 2,000 individual deployments in support of Air Expeditionary Force requirements over the past two years, has put the wing at the forefront of the war on terrorism, he said.
Maintaining the homefront has been equally important, he said.
Making sure servicemembers and their families are taken care of at home has garnered the base multiple awards, including 16 at the Air Force level and 95 Pacific Air Force awards.
“We have worked to ensure that people get the best possible quality of life while they are at Yokota,” Goodwin said.
All of these achievements have left a “strong foundation” for Newell to build upon during his time at Yokota, said Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commanding general, during Thursday’s ceremony.
After the ceremony, Newell talked about what he hopes to focus on during his tenure at Yokota and his first impressions of the base.
Newell said his initial focus will be the base’s basic airlift mission and supporting USFJ’s mission of strengthening joint and bilateral defense capabilities.
“Arriving at Yokota, my initial impression was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “This has been the warmest welcome we’ve ever gotten anywhere in the Air Force.”
There is a great sense of community on the base, he observed, with most people seeming to embrace the opportunity to live in Japan. He stressed the continued importance of proper conduct when leaving the base.
“When Americans go off base they are serving as ambassadors to the people of Japan,” he said.
Continuing with the theme of off-base conduct, Newell said he had not had a chance to look at the nighttime restriction on nearby Bar Row.
“The original policy was established as a safety issue, not a discipline issue,” he said, adding that he did not wish to comment further on the policy until he becomes more familiar with it.