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Brig. Gen. Bill Rew, left, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base commander, presents Maj. Wendell Brenneman, right, and his wife, Deb, second from right, with their Hawaiian cruise prize packet Wednesday morning. Brenneman was one of three top grand prize winners in the PACAF Pentathlon online board game contest.
Brig. Gen. Bill Rew, left, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base commander, presents Maj. Wendell Brenneman, right, and his wife, Deb, second from right, with their Hawaiian cruise prize packet Wednesday morning. Brenneman was one of three top grand prize winners in the PACAF Pentathlon online board game contest. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Chalk it up to divine intervention, sheer luck or Fridays spent at the wood shop, but Maj. Wendell Brenneman and his wife, Deb, are going on a cruise.

Brenneman, the senior Protestant chaplain at this northern Japan base, was one of three “five level” grand-prize winners in Pacific Air Forces Pentathlon, an online board game that rewarded players for using services-run organizations, from clubs to veterinary clinics, at U.S. air bases in the Pacific.

Brenneman won a seven-day Hawaiian cruise for two, with round-trip airfare from Misawa to Hawaii and three nights’ lodging at a hotel. He and his wife plan to go in March.

“I’ve always wanted to do a cruise, so this is really exciting,” Brenneman said Wednesday as base officials presented his prize packet.

“We’ll try not to gain too much weight,” he quipped. “There’s 11 different restaurants on this boat.”

In its second year, the contest is designed to enhance awareness about services and award services patrons, according to information from Misawa’s 35th Services Squadron. Services organizations gave out tickets to patrons between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31. To play, participants registered at www.pacfive.com and logged their game piece numbers. By earning more game pieces, players could move through five different levels and qualify to win increasingly more expensive prizes in a drawing. Instant prizes such as T-shirts, movie tickets and DVDs also were awarded at each level.

Other grand-prize winners at the top level included Yokota Air Base’s Tech. Sgt. Cesar Casillas, who won a Hawaiian vacation for two. A $2,000 cash award went to a player from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, officials said.

Misawa and Yokota had several other winners at lower prize levels. At Misawa, Staff Sgt. Rebecca Griffin won a cross-trainer. Chris Looney, a staff sergeant at Yokota, earned $1,000 in cash, while Yokota family member Deborah Moon received an iPod digital music player.

“There’s a variety of ways of winning when you participate in services’ activities,” said Brenda Akanuma, 35th Services Squadron assistant marketing director.

Brenneman said the cruise is the first prize he’s ever won. The chaplain said he usually picked up a ticket on Fridays when he spent part of his day off at the Skills Development Center’s wood shop. He also earned game pieces when eating at the club for lunch and logging workouts on FitLinxx, a computerized fitness monitoring system available at Potter Fitness Center.

“I always talked about giving Deb a cruise on our 25th wedding anniversary,” he said, noting that was 10 years ago.

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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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