‘My instincts to help kicked in:’ Yokota Associate honored for heroic work after off-post accident

On Feb. 26, Lt. Col. Ty Christian, commander for 374th Contracting Squadron, Ms. Mayumi Hongo, Charleys restaurant associate, and Julia Woods, general manager for Yokota and Camp Fuji Exchanges, pose for a picture after Hongo received a Humanitarian Certificate of Appreciation from Exchange Director /CEO Tom Shull and a Coin of Excellence from Christian. Hongo received the recognition for aiding four Airmen who were involved in a vehicle accident outside Yokota AB. (Photo by Thomas E. Sullivan)
On Feb. 26, Lt. Col. Ty Christian, commander for 374th Contracting Squadron, Ms. Mayumi Hongo, Charleys restaurant associate, and Julia Woods, general manager for Yokota and Camp Fuji Exchanges, pose for a picture after Hongo received a Humanitarian Certificate of Appreciation from Exchange Director /CEO Tom Shull and a Coin of Excellence from Christian. Hongo received the recognition for aiding four Airmen who were involved in a vehicle accident outside Yokota AB. (Photo by Thomas E. Sullivan)

‘My instincts to help kicked in:’ Yokota Associate honored for heroic work after off-post accident

by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman
AAFES Pacific Region Public Affairs NCO

Mayumi Hongo was enjoying a day off Feb. 17 when she witnessed the aftermath of a serious vehicle accident off-post.

Hongo, a Charleys associate at the Yokota BX, quickly noticed the car had a “Y” license plate, which indicated that it belonged to a U.S. service member.

Hongo rushed to the aid of the driver, Senior Airman Song, Yong-hwa and 3 other Airmen, all with the 374th Contracting Squadron. Hongo arrived as they were climbing out of a passenger-side window of a Nissan Cube that had flipped on its side.

According to Lt. Col. Ty Christian, 374th Contacting Squadron’s commander, accidents in a foreign country are a “very traumatizing experience” because of the language barrier and the uncertainty of your rights if you are from another country.

“I was very thankful Ms. Hongo was there during the whole situation, especially when I needed to explain the accident to the Japanese police; and due to the language barrier, it was very hard,” Song said. “Ms. Hongo was able to talk to the police on my behalf and translate everything, which led to a smooth investigation.”

Hongo has worked for the Exchange for 17 years, the past four at Charleys. She has embraced the Exchange’s core value of family serving family, which led to her actions to help Airmen she didn’t even know.

“When I saw them trying to climb out the window after the accident, my instincts to help kicked in,” Hongo said. “I was happy to help and that everyone is OK.”

After hearing of Hongo’s heroism, Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull, sent her a Humanitarian Certificate of Appreciation to applaud her service.

Christian and Julia Woods, general manager for the Yokota Air Base and Camp Fuji Exchanges, honored Hongo during a Feb. 26 ceremony. Hongo received the humanitarian certificate and a coin of excellence from the 374th Contracting Squadron commander.

Airman Song appreciates Hongo’s assistance.

“She stayed with me until the end of the incident, which took at least three hours of her personal time to help people she didn’t even know,” Song said. “When I get the time, I would like to go and thank her once again.”


On Feb. 17, Ms. Mayumi Hongo on her day off from Charleys restaurant on Yokota Air Base aids four U.S. Airmen during a serious car accident, lucky no one was seriously injured. Hongo called for the Japanese’s first responders and translated for the Airmen throughout the initial investigation. (The Exchange’s Courtesy Photo)

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content