2017 USO Japan gala honorees
published: September 06, 2017
USO Japan will honor these 18 servicemen and women of the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces for their personal achievements, volunteerism, leadership and service to country at New Sanno Hotel on Sept. 9.
QM1 Shaundell Wright
Wright is an integral member of the First Class Petty Officer Association as well as being a dedicated treasurer for the FY17 Navy Ball. She has dedicated countless hours to the CFAY Color Guard team, yet her true passion lies in getting that one on one interaction and helping sailors by dedicating any free moments that she can spare to volunteering at the USO. Whether it be manning the front desk as a Center Volunteer, greeting PCSing sailors and families during the USO AOB presentation, delivering toys to a Japanese orphanage, or simply stopping by the center during her lunch break to provide any assistance needed, she always there to lend a hand. Wright was an integral volunteer during the relief efforts after the catastrophic collision of the USS Fitzgerald. She helped with maintaining daily center operations as well as providing a helpful hand to all of the Fitzgerald sailors. She prepared and delivered lunch for sailors on the barge and those on duty. She truly made it her mission to ensure all of the crew was taken care of. She embodies the true volunteer spirit, and can always be relied on to render aid.
Service Member of the Year
MSgt. David Weaver
Weaver is the Flight Chief, Financial Services Office, 35th Comptroller Squadron, Misawa Air Base. As Flight Chief, Weaver provides financial decision support to wing leadership, supervising an 11 member flight while keeping expenditures within Congressional. Weaver earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Technical Management in 2008. He also earned dual Master’s degrees in Applied Science from the University of Oklahoma in International Relations and Human Resources in 2015. He has also served as the vocalist Flight Chief for the Air Force Expeditionary Entertainment Unit Tops in Blue.
NC1 (SW/AW) Richard Effah
Effah reported to Naval Air Facility Misawa in February 2015 as the Command Career counselor. A model of the volunteer spirit, Effah has dedicated over 2,000 hours in community relation projects around the globe. Furthermore, he promotes healthy lifestyle activities to children from ages 3 to 16 as a Certified Youth Sports Coach, teaching children team-building skills and physical fitness.
Yokota Air Base
MSgt. Tyler Meyenburg
Meyenburg was selected as a Total Force Leadership Development Program Facilitator and the Yokota AB AFSA President. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Management, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and an Associate’s Degree in Instructor of Technology.
His awards and decorations include: Air Force Commendation Medal (two Oak Leaf), Air Force Achievement Medal (two Oak Leaf), ACC Harvey A. Cain Airman of the Year; 2007, Distinguished Graduate, Nellis Airman Leadership School; 2008, 99 ABW IMAGE Award; 2011, AFSA Division 6 Member of the Year; 2012, 99 ABW NCO of the 2nd Quarter; 2012, AFSA Division 6 NCO of the Year; 2013, 99 ABW Art Flemming Award; 2013, AFSA International Exemplary Achievement Award; 2014, 99 ABW NCO of the Year; 2014, Harvey A. Cain NCO of the Year; 2015, 374 AB SNCO of the 4th Quarter; 2016.
PFC An Ngo
Ngo is an active member of the community, both on and off post. In August 2016, he was selected to serve as his unit’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Representative. Ngo volunteers as an English language tutor out in town. An intermediate level Japanese speaker, he continues to take Japanese lessons to further engage the culture which has left a lasting impression on him.
In March 2017, PFC Ngo was selected to serve as the unit Human Resource Manager. Serving far above his pay grade and outside his primary MOS, Ngo replaced a Human Resources Staff Sergeant and has worked simultaneously to rectify human resource operations and provide the organization with BOSS support. Never afraid to accept a challenge, he has worked to assist in the creation and implementation of human resource policies and accountability systems within the unit.
CS1 (SW) Rodnel Balaga
Balaga reported to Naval Air Facility Atsugi in October 2015. As the Leading Petty Officer of Unaccompanied Housing, he supervised 33 military and 25 resident advisors in the daily operation of 10 Unaccompanied Housing facilities to support 33 Commands and 1,500 forward deployed Sailors. He plays a vital role in the successful housing inspections that resulted in Unaccompanied Housing’s selection for FY16 CNIC “A” List Award and FY17 CNIC Crystal Award for Customer Service Excellence.
His personal awards include: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), Good Conduct Medal (2), Presidential Volunteer Service Award, MOVSM, Zenkokai Japanese Good Conduct Award and FLOC (3).
HM1 Hasaon D. Riley
Riley served at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka from December 2009 to December 2013 where he filled the LPO position for the Plan Operation and Medical Intelligence (POMI) Department, and served as Departmental LPO for Dental Department. He was then hand-picked to fill a highly visible position of Senior Departmental Representative Branch Health Annex Yokohama. Riley reported to the Pre-trial Confinement Facility in February 2014 and was hand-picked to be the Leading Petty Officer of the facility. His education includes: Masters of Business Administration, Bachelors of Science Degree and Associates of Science Degree.
AT2 (AW) Ricci Dianne Aquino
Aquino is currently assigned the Reagan Ranch as an Instructor for incoming personnel where she facilitates Indoctrination and scheduling for Area Orientation Brief and Intercultural Relations. She is also Acting Career Counselor, providing valuable guidance to sailors transitioning from the Navy. Aquino has attended Vincennes University and Skagit Valley College to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She is continuing her education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, pursuing a Bachelors in Aeronautics. Her personal awards includes one Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal, and three Good Conduct medals.
LCpl. Kevin Rebollo
Rebollo received orders in March 2017 to Combined Arms Training Center (CATC), Camp Fuji, Japan, as part of the Fleet Assistance Program where he has made himself an invaluable asset to the logistics office. He is currently serving as the S-4 Billeting Clerk, a billet that has had a direct impact on over a 2,000 uniformed personnel and civilians who have come to Camp Fuji to conduct training. He also leads efforts to ensure that logistically all personnel are strategically placed within limited billeting spaces that are available aboard the camp. During May 2017 he oversaw the execution of a 26 million dollar contract to refurnish the CATC permanent personnel barracks, playing a vital role in in ensuring the renovation went as scheduled.
In his spare time, Rebollo often volunteers with various community service events.
Marine Corps Station Iwakuni
SSgt. Jeffery D. Burke
Burke participated in the Operation TOMODACHI humanitarian efforts in the areas of northern Japan affected by the March 11, 2011, tsunami, receiving the Humanitarian Service Medal. He also participated in exercises TALISMAN SABER and SOUTHERN FRONTIER, earning the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. In August 2014, Burke was transferred to MCAS Iwakuni, assuming his current position as the Brig Supervisor, Provost Marshal’s Office. He was sent to the Naval Correctional Counselor School, graduating as the honor graduate and earned the additional MOS of 5832/Correctional Counselor.
MA3 David C. Berry Jr.
Berry has mentored five junior Sailors and successfully helped them qualify as Patrolmen, supporting the overall mission of his Department. Through his dedicated volunteer efforts, Berry has represented himself with distinction. Among his many volunteer efforts, he volunteered over 700 hours at Sasebo Elementary School and Jack N. Darby Elementary School as a classroom mentor, math tutor and as an Assistant Coach for the Fleet Young Sports Program, ensuring a safe, fun place for children ages five and six to learn sportsmanship and team building. While volunteering for the Sasebo Traffic Safety Campaign, he worked closely with Japanese Police Services to raise traffic safety awareness throughout the city of Sasebo. He also serves as a Boy Scouts of America Troop Leader.
HM1 (SW/AW/IW) Tommy L. Aflague
Aflague is a hard-charging sailor serving as Leading Petty Officer for the Medical and Dental Department onboard USS GERMANTOWN in Sasebo, Japan. He is a graduate of Trident University with a Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences. He is also a member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology ASCP) and the World Safety Organization (WSO). Aflague’s personal decorations include: Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 Awards), Army Achievement Medal (1 Award), Good Conduct Medal (5 Awards), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (1 Award), President’s Volunteer Service Award (Bronze pin) and various other unit and campaign awards.
Japan Air Self-Defense Force
MSgt. Horimichi Suzuki
Suzuki places importance in utilizing his leadership and experiences to connect with junior Airmen whom are interested in expanding their scope of activities and aims to create a great unit. He serves as Deputy Director of Minshukan and serves to better his community. Every year, he participates in Komatsu City’s traditional “Edo Festival” event.
Japan Air Self-Defense Force
MSgt. Yoichi Ishihara
Ishihara has a variety volunteer achievements, including coaching for the Judo Department of the Tenzie Sports Promotion Association and serving as Director of the Judo Club of Tyme Sports Promotion Association. As a certified Judo Leaders C Instructor, he helped organize the Kyushu Games (2014-2016). His dedicated to serving the children of the community, which carries over into the Air Self Defense Force when he demonstrates leadership and strives to convey the importance of unity to young crew members. Ishihara was raised on an island group comprised of 11 inhabited and 52 uninhabited islands and is passionate about preserving his home so future generations can continue to grow and thrive there.
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
SFC Eizaburo Eguchi
Eguchi dedicated himself to enhancing the relationship between Japan and United States, organizing social events as part of the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Exchange Program Section at Yamasakura Exercise in 2016. He was also part of a team of military volunteers who helped remove debris after the Kumamoto earthquake in April 2016, forging a bond with the local community.
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
SgtMaj Toshiyuki Yamazaki
Yamazaki is dedicated to enhancing the relationship with the local community as a member of Non-Commissioned Officers Association in Camp Shibata. Yamazaki participated Forest Light 2017 in May as a platoon sergeant, supporting his platoon leader. Yamazaki is known in his unit as a great leader, mentor and counselor.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
PO2 Katsuaki Sueki
Sueki works as a flight mechanic for the 511 Flight Unit, Air Development Squadron 51 in Naval Air Facility Atsugi. He is fluent in English and makes positive efforts in having great communication with Carrier Air Wing Five on Atsugi Base. He also volunteered for a squadron booth at the NAF Atsugi Spring Festival. Sueki’s goal is to become a Command Master Chief in the future.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
PO2 Hiroko Yonehara
Yonehara has worked as an intelligence agent for the Operational Intelligence Center, serving as a translator between U.S. military and JMSDF system administrators to help conduct the units’ mission.
She also has worked as an emcee and translator at Japanese and American events, climbed Mt. Fuji with U.S. military and JMSDF, as well as worked on social exchanges with the U.S. military, both officially and privately.