USO honors the best and brightest service members

(Left) SSG Amanda J. Hess, USA, and (right) SrA Ariful Haque, USAF
(Left) SSG Amanda J. Hess, USA, and (right) SrA Ariful Haque, USAF

USO honors the best and brightest service members

by: . | .
USO | .
published: September 05, 2014

The USO Service Salute Gala will be held on Sept. 6 at the New Sanno Hotel, honoring U.S. and Japanese service members who have shown exceptional leadership, professionalism, and volunteerism. Here, we'd like to highlight two of the honorees, Staff Sgt. Amanda J. Hess, U.S. Army and  Sr. Airman Ariful Haque, U.S. Air Force.


SSG Amanda J. Hess was born on December 5, 1986 in Waynesboro, PA.  She grew up in Smithsburg, MD and graduated from Washington County Technical High School in 2004.  She joined the United States Army on October 19, 2005 because she wanted to serve her country.  She attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, SC, where she was awarded the Military Occupational Specialty 42A, Human Resources Specialist.

SSG Hess was assigned to Fort Lewis, WA with the 593rd Sustainment Brigade as a Brigade S-1 clerk and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Upon redeployment, SSG Hess was assigned to Delta Company 1-222d Aviation Regiment at Fort Eustis, VA where she served as the Operations NCO.  Due to her outstanding record and leadership potential, SSG Hess was selected by the Department of the Army for Drill Sergeant Duty and assigned to Fort Jackson, SC with Alpha Company 3/60th Infantry Regiment, where she served for two years.  Her sincere desire to lead and develop Soldiers inspired SSG Hess to voluntarily extend for an additional year on Drill Sergeant Duty with Charlie Company 120th Adjutant Battalion.  Following her third year as a Drill Sergeant, SSG Hess was assigned to the 441st Military Intelligence Battalion located at Camp Zama, Japan.  She currently serves as the Battalion S-1 NCOIC and 1st Platoon Sergeant.  SSG Hess is extremely active in the community as a leader and mentor, where she serves as the United States Army Japan (USARJ) Honor Guard NCOIC, SHARP Unit Victim Advocate, Equal Opportunity Leader, Master Resilience Trainer, and battalion Female Mentorship Leader.  SSG Hess also volunteers personal time to teach English and provide support to the Bott Memorial Home, a local Japanese orphanage.

SSG Hess’ personal decorations include the Army Accommodation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal second award, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Service Ribbon with numerical 2 device, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Drill Sergeant Badge.

SSG Hess’ short term goals are to attain the rank of Sergeant First Class, be inducted into the prestigious USARJ Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and graduate from Senior Leaders Course as the Distinguished Honor Graduate.  Her long term goals are to obtain a Bachelors Degree Summa Cum Laude in Human Resources/Business from Columbia Southern University, get married, start a family, become a Command Sergeant Major, and retire in Georgia.


SrA Ariful Haque is a Water and Fuels Systems Maintenance Technician at Yokota Air Base, Japan. He is responsible for maintaining the base’s water supply system in support of 12,000 personnel and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.  Additionally, he installs and repairs Yokota’s fire protection components, protecting $4.2 billion infrastructure.  SrA Haque also performs preventive maintenance of the installation’s vast fuel system delivery network, enabling 8,000 sorties annually.

SrA Haque was born in Bangladesh on 17 July 1986, and he enlisted in the United States Air Force on 1 April, 2011.  He was one of five Airmen in the United States Air Force history to receive his United States Citizenship at Basic Military Training graduation ceremony.  SrA Haque has a loving wife, Tsiring, and he is a proud father of two kids: Keith, 9, and Alana, 1.

2007 Associates of Arts degree in liberal arts, Queensborough Community College, Queens, N.Y.
2010 Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, N.Y.
2010 Master of Arts degree in criminal justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, N.Y.
2014 Associate of Science in Mechanical & Electrical Technology, CCAF

1. June 2011 - August 2011, Student, Basic Military Training, Lackland AFB, Texas
2. August 2011 - February 2012, Student, Technical Training School, Sheppard AFB, TX.
3. March 2012 - present, Water & Fuels Systems Technician, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, Yokota AB, Japan
Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon

374th AW Airman of the Year 2013, Yokota AB, Japan
374th AW Honor Guardsman of the Year 2013, Yokota AB, Japan
PACAF Airman of the Year 2013

Here are the other honorees to be recognized at the gala on Saturday:

  • CS1 (SW) Jeffrey L. Legaspi, Naval Air Station Atsugi
  • Corporal Abduali U. Balbuena, Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji
  • Lance Corporal Guadalupe Campos, Marine Corp Air Station Iwakuni
  • Techinical Sergant Kepler A. Baksh, Misawa Air Base-Air Force
  • AT1 Larry P. Algard, Misawa Air Base- Navy
  • MA1 Wilbert Baas, Command Fleet Activities Sasebo
  • FC1 (SW) Eric E. Larson, Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka- Afloat
  • YN3 Josselyn A. Escobar, Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka-Shore
  • CMSgt Satoru Goto, Japan Air Self-Defense Force
  • SGM Hisato Uchikawa, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
  • SFC Yukuke Ohkoshi, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
  • PO3 Hiroyuki Iizuka, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
  • PO3 Shizuka Ikeda, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Volunteer of the Year Japan

  • IT2 Brook L. Ruhl, NCTS Yokosuka
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