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Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, from left to right, stand in front of USFJ troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015, during which Dolan took command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Angelella.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, from left to right, stand in front of USFJ troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015, during which Dolan took command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Angelella. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, from left to right, stand in front of USFJ troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015, during which Dolan took command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Angelella.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, from left to right, stand in front of USFJ troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015, during which Dolan took command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Angelella. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson delivers remarks to a crowd of United States Forces Japan troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015. Lt. Gen. John Dolan assumed command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella.

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson delivers remarks to a crowd of United States Forces Japan troops during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015. Lt. Gen. John Dolan assumed command of 5th Air Force and USFJ from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Lt. Gen. John Dolan, center, takes command of 5th Air Force and U.S. Force Japan from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015. At left is Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson.

Lt. Gen. John Dolan, center, takes command of 5th Air Force and U.S. Force Japan from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella during a change-of-command ceremony at Yokota Air Base on Friday, June 5, 2015. At left is Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori Robinson. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Lt. Gen. John Dolan offers remarks to U.S. Forces Japan troops before assuming command of 5th Air Force and USFJ during a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Lt. Gen. John Dolan offers remarks to U.S. Forces Japan troops before assuming command of 5th Air Force and USFJ during a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Lt. Gen. John Dolan receives his 1st salute as commander of 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan from his troops after a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Dolan assumed command from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella.

Lt. Gen. John Dolan receives his 1st salute as commander of 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan from his troops after a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Dolan assumed command from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of Pacific Air Forces, and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, show off their colors during a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Dolan assumed command from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella.

Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of Pacific Air Forces, and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, show off their colors during a change-of-command ceremony Friday, June 5, 2015, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Dolan assumed command from Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella. (Eric Guzman/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — When Lt. Gen. John L. Dolan took command of 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan on Friday, he was welcomed by a group of retired Japanese servicemembers who saved his life more than two decades ago.

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Commander (retired) Hideki Kida and the crew of the Iwakuni-based rescue aircraft US-1, number 81, were among the crowd of mostly U.S. and Japanese servicemembers and civilians who greeted Dolan at Yokota Air Base.

“He and his crew risked their lives as they rescued me when I had to eject from my F-16, 680 nautical miles from Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean,” Dolan told the audience, recalling the events of Jan. 23, 1992.

“They were heroic that day, and I will tell you that I would not be standing before you now if it was not for the bravery of Commander Kida and his crew.”

Dolan took command of USFJ, along with the 5th Air Force’s flagship F-16, from Lt. Gen. Salvatore A. “Sam” Angelella.

During his time in Japan, Angelella focused on boosting the alliance’s capabilities by, for example, deploying some of America’s the most modern weapons, such as the Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, Marine Corps Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and Air Force Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane, Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Lori J. Robinson said.

“Sammy and his staff also spearheaded increased collaboration in missile defense and synchronized efforts in the deployment of a second early-warning radar,” she said.

Robinson noted the recent successful deployment of U.S. forces from Japan to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“His (Angelella’s) airmen flew over 5,000 combat hours (as part of the battle against the Islamic State last summer) at a surge rate double that of normal wartime planning,” she said. “When over 40,000 civilians were trapped on Sinjar Mountain, our Misawa airmen led attacks against (Islamic State) forces and paved the way for humanitarian airdrops and these civilians’ eventual escape.”

Angelella had provided guidance and support for the Japanese Self Defense Force’s joint staff as it prepared for its increased role, Robinson said.

Japan is in the process of reinterpreting its pacifist constitution to allow for collective defense.

Angelella ended his time in Japan with praise for U.S. servicemembers and their efforts to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 and in Nepal following this year’s earthquake.

“The U.S. and Japan are readying the alliance for the challenges of the future and reaffirming its role as the guarantor of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific,” he said.

robson.seth@stripes.com Twitter: @SethRobson1

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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