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Senior Airman Alysha Landers, 21, from Columbus, Ga., a ground radio operator with 18th Communications Squadron, watches Wednesday as Japan Air Self-Defense Force Staff Sgt. Yuki Takasaki, 21, a ground radio operator from Okinoerabu-Jima Air Station, works on a radio at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Takasaki was at Kadena working with Landers for a week as part of Kadena's Bilateral Exchange Program.

Senior Airman Alysha Landers, 21, from Columbus, Ga., a ground radio operator with 18th Communications Squadron, watches Wednesday as Japan Air Self-Defense Force Staff Sgt. Yuki Takasaki, 21, a ground radio operator from Okinoerabu-Jima Air Station, works on a radio at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Takasaki was at Kadena working with Landers for a week as part of Kadena's Bilateral Exchange Program. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Seven Japanese servicemembers got a taste of American military life during an exchange program this week at Kadena.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force personnel, from bases throughout Japan, worked one-on-one with their Kadena counterparts to learn how the U.S. military does things, Senior Master Sgt. Kenny Trawick, the 18th Wing Bilateral Exchange Program coordinator, said Wednesday.

The experience was great but surprising, said Staff Sgt. Yuki Takasaki, 21, a ground radio operator from Okinoerabu-Jima Air Station.

“Everything here is huge,” Takasaki said. “My base — just four buildings on my base.”

He also was surprised at how youthful the U.S. military is, he said, explaining that most Japanese military personnel don’t retire until they are in their mid-50s.

His U.S. counterpart, Senior Airman Alysha Landers, 21, a ground radio operator with 18th Communications Squadron, said that despite the language barrier she enjoyed Takasaki’s visit.

“A lot of hand gestures … and we mainly used the (electronic) dictionary,” she said.

Though the two forces use different equipment, working on the radios together was easy, she said.

“Radios are the same concept,” Landers said. "Everything looks different, but they’re still the same.”

Takasaki and his fellow servicemembers were scheduled to depart Kadena on Thursday, but Landers said her new friend can come back and visit anytime.

As part of the annual exchange program, Kadena plans to send a small group of airmen to a mainland JASDF base in the fall, Trawick said.


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