MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — For the second year in a row, Misawa Air Base is in the running to be named the best Air Force base and receive a prize between $500,000 to $1 million.

Pacific Air Forces has selected Misawa as its nominee for the 2005 Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence award.

Last year, Misawa was one of three finalists for the Air Force award, which eventually went to Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County, Calif. Aviano Air Base in Pordenone, Italy, was the third finalist.

In 1984, President Reagan established the award to recognize bases that have done the best with their resources to support the mission. It encourages commanders to create an environment promoting innovation and creativity to enhance base services, facilities and quality of life.

Every year, each major Air Force command selects a nominee to compete at the Air Force level. Three bases eventually compete for the ultimate prize. All Air Force installations, except the previous year’s winner, are eligible to win the award, according to Misawa base officials.

Last year, Misawa earned $500,000 for quality-of-life improvements as a finalist for the award, according to base spokesman Tech. Sgt. Mikal Canfield. That money is being spent on the following: a climbing wall and skateboard park for the new Weasel’s Den in Hangar 973, 10 new treadmills for the Potter Fitness Center, new flooring and bleachers at the Lunney Youth Center, keyless entry for base lodging facilities, and equipment to expand base cable from 23 to 58 channels by early 2005.

Maj. Frank Dement, 35th Fighter Wing director of staff, said in a base news report that to win the award, bases must be able to show how their programs improve the installation’s work environment and quality of life, enhance worker productivity and customer satisfaction, encourage bottom-to-top communication and promote unit cohesiveness and environmental safety.

“With all that the people here accomplish, both at Misawa and deployed around the world, it’s no surprise that we’ve been named best base in PACAF two years in a row,” Dement said in the report.

The installation excellence award finalists are to be selected in December, according to base officials; the overall winner is to be chosen after an Air Force team visits all three bases next year. The winner’s base operation and maintenance funds will be increased by $1 million.

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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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