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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2019

Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan & 5th Air Force Change of Command Speech As Delivered

U.S. AIR FORCE LT GEN JERRY P. MARTINEZ, Outgoing Commander, U.S. FORCES JAPAN/5th Air Force


Thanks so much to all our distinguished visitors that are here today and everybody for coming. You presence means so much to me and my family. I want to start by saying thank you to Admiral Davidson. Sir, thank you so much for your leadership, for your support and for always having the back of the men and women of U.S. Forces Japan. It’s been inspiring to watch how you’ve jumped into the Pacific, the busiest AOR in the world and managed it with such grace. You’re a fantastic boss and the Pacific is really lucky to have you here. So, thank you so much for everything. And to General Brown, the same huge thanks to you. You know, you made your first trip out to the Pacific to make sure Japan was in the line-up. You’ve talked every day since then about the Airmen’s issues in Japan and has just as much had our back and taking care of the men and women out here. I think if I could talk about both leaders at the same time, the thing I would say about both of you--that I have observed--is that your actions, not your words, but your actions, showed that you really deeply care about the country of Japan. You care about the people in Japan and you care about the mission in Japan. It’s been an honor to serve under both of you. You’re both fantastic leaders. And ladies and gentlemen, will you join me in had for our leaders.

            Gumby [Lt. Gen. Schneider] congratulations. Gumby has been doing a fantastic job at Indo-PACOM and we worked together on many issues personally, and so, he knows the issues in Japan. He understands Japan; he served in Japan and, and he is a fantastic leader. He’s a guy who cares deeply about his men and women, and I know he’s going to do a fantastic job when he gets in the seat. From Kim and I, we wish you and your family the absolute best. You’re going to have a great, great time in Japan and you’re going to be a fantastic commander. Congratulations to you and your family.

            Ambassador Hagerty, sir, I to have say you are just an absolutely amazing representative of the Unites States of America to be abroad. What a fantastic ambassador, what a great friend and what a great partner in all the things we do in Japan. You and Chrissy make an amazing team as not only the lead diplomats to this country, but also as an amazing set of parents and how you raise your children. It’s really been an honor for Kim and I to get to know you. We’ve had a blast hanging out with you and doing the many things that we do in this country. As far as that great team you have in the embassy with you, I give my sincerest thanks to all of them. If you look at the relationship between the United States Embassy and Japan, and the U.S. forces stationed in Japan, that is the gold standard around the world of what a relationship should look like and how, when you work together, you partner together, and you communicate you can do great things. Thank you Ambassador, to you and your team. You’re a great friend and a great representative of our nation. Thank you so much.

            To my fantastic deputies, you know, on an organizational chart, you always have a boss then somewhere there is a deputy. But, I’ve never really looked at my deputies as deputies. What they are, is they’re my friends, they’re my peers, they’re my confidants, they’re the people that I trust. I had the great opportunity to work with General Chuck Chiarotti and General Mike Winkler when and now General ‘Mo’ Mahoney and General ‘Tonka’ Dozier. Two fantastic leaders. They’re two great friends with two great spouses who support the mission and support the families. You guys are fantastic teammates I’m going to miss you. Thank you both so much for helping Kim and I be successful in this job. Thank you.

            To the amazing men and women of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force. You have been in the Pacific in an amazingly crazy time, in a changing environment where the threats have developed so quickly, and mornings where we woke up with four ballistic missiles headed into the Sea of Japan and towards us and some mornings with the missiles actually going over our head.  I’m going to tell you, you guys have answered the nation’s call. You’ve adapted; you’ve got your mind set in the right place. You’ve trained hard and you’ve been ready should those confrontations needed to go a little bit higher. I’m really, really proud of you. I’m proud of the work that you’ve done and the hard work you gave our nation and the great, great things you do to keep the Alliance in Japan at its peak. It’s been a true honor to be your commander and I thank you all for what you’ve done.

And, my three wings commanders, whether it’s the freezing snow up at Misawa, or the amazing metropolitan area at Yokota and the Tokyo region, or the very beautiful and sunny Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, I have three great wing commanders who have done a fabulous job leading Airmen. The men and women in your organizations have impressed me every day that I’ve been the commander. I can promise you one thing, I went to bed every single night and I absolutely knew that those Airmen were unequivocally ready to fly, they were ready to fight, and they were ready to win. And, that’s all I could ask of those great commanders. So thank you so much to you and your men and women. It’s been an honor to serve with you.

            Of course to my fabulous Army, Navy and Marine components that are out there. There’s an old saying that when you do things and you do them jointly, that it’s hard. But, I’m going to tell you, the components that I had working with me in Japan, they made jointness pretty darn easy--fantastic leaders and great representatives of their services. I learned so much about the Navy, the Army, and the Marine Corps, by these fantastic leaders and all the men and women that are doing the nation’s work here in Japan. My thanks for being great components, and being great friends and doing such a fabulous job.

            Then, of course, my wonderful, wonderful friends from the country of Japan. I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been to get to know all of you and to learn from you and to partner with you on so many different things. Minister, thank you so much for being here and representing all the senior government officials here in Japan. I had a great time working with the Prime Minister Abe and Cabinet Secretary Suga and Foreign Minister Kono and of course the three different defense ministers, and currently Defense Minister Iwaya. Thank you for all the support the senior government officials in Japan give to us. And, Mr. Suzuki, the Director General of North American Affairs--we worked some tough issues together. He’s a tough negotiator and a tough leader, but I’ll tell you what I really respect, is that we promised each other that we would always have the doors open for dialogue and you’ve delivered. Thank you so much for your friendship and for working all those issues.

And then certainly, Admiral Kawano. Admiral Kawano is probably one of the most famous people in Japan. Because he’s been the Chairman, I think, for somewhere around 30 or 40 years--it’s what we think when we calculated it. Admiral, the many breakfasts’ we had and the dinners and working real issues meant a lot to me, but what really meant a lot to me was, just that any time I needed help or you needed help we were always a phone call away and we kept that pledge and helped each other. I’ve been in the military almost 33 years, and I can unequivocally say up here, you are one of the finest officers I’ve met in my military career. I have the deepest respect for you, thank you so much for leading the joint staff, for leading all the military forces in Japan and for being such a great friend to the Unites States of America.

            To my other great friend, General Marumo, who leads Airmen. He is the head boss of all the Airmen in Japan and a great friend of the United States as well. I can tell you General that Kim and I are going to miss you and Midori. What a fantastic team that you make representing your nation and your passion for Airmen, your passion for aviation is amazing. I’ve watched and worked with you on so many issues and I greatly admire all that you’ve done. If I can thank you for anything, thank you for keeping the skies above Japan safe, but most importantly thank you for keeping the skies above Japan free. We’ve greatly enjoyed, the United States Air Force and 5th Air Force working with you on so many issues. Thank you for your leadership.

            To all our Self Defense Forces, what an honor. Whether it’s ground or maritime, or even working with the Coast Guard in the many ways that we have in Japan, you all have been great teammates of the United States and I have the greatest respect for you and for your country. I’m really proud to have worked with all of you.

            Of course I have to come close to home with General Muto, who’s right here on my base and he’s my neighbor--his home is next to my home -- and he is the guy who protects the men and women in this country from ballistic missiles and from air attacks. We owe you great gratitude for protecting our families, for protecting our mission, and for being such a great, great partner to the Unites States. Thank you for the good, good good relationship that you have developed with not only me but with my entire team. Thank you so much General Muto.

            I want to thank all of the communities that support the men and women all across Japan. We have amazing, amazing communities outside of our bases. Whether it’s in Okinawa, or in the main islands or way up north near Misawa, there’s fantastic Japanese citizens out there who support the men and women in uniform and help us to live abroad and to understand culture and to learn. One of those guys I just have a deep affection that I do want to give a shout out to is my good friend Jimmy-san from Okinawa. Jimmy is one of the largest supporters of Kadena Air Base I think I’ve ever seen. He gives day and night effort and just has been a real pleasure to get to know as I’ve been in command. So, for Jimmy-san and all the citizens of Japan who support our bases, you have my deepest thanks.

            I’d also like to thank AFN, our American Forces Network. Not only do they provide entertainment on television and social media and radio, but I am going to tell you as a commander in a country with over 54,000 men and women serving in uniform, they are my force multiplier. They’re the ways I can reach out and get my messages even to the youngest members of a family who are all watching AFN. So thank you for filming this today and thank you for the support to all the men and women you’ve given in Japan.

            Then, of course I have a great family who’s been beside me for quite a while. Poor Kim, when we were dating was supporting events at my cadet squadron when I was in the Academy—had no idea she’d be hosting many, many Japanese ladies in our home over the last few years and doing the same thing. My kids would be mad if I don’t give a shout-out to my son Travis in Denver and my daughter, Tara in Nevada and, of course all my extended family in Diamond, Oklahoma. It’s been a great blast and they’ve been great supporters all the way.

            Then, I will end today with one final thanks. Something I’m very proud of in my military career is that I’m an enlisted kid. My father is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant. I grew up in an enlisted family and when I graduated from the Air Force Academy, my father -- some would say it was mentoring, I would say it was a direct threat -- told me that I better always be taking care of my enlisted. So in my final speech that I will give in a uniform as an active duty member, I just want to thank my enlisted not only in Japan but all over the world. In all of our services our enlisted are our backbone. They are the core of our services. They are the ones that have the knowledge. They’re the ones that have the technical expertise and they’re the ones that have the experience. I want to thank my two chiefs and all of our enlisted forces everywhere for being the backbone of our nation, and of our deterrence and of our strength. To all my officers and civilians, don’t worry, I love you guys too.

            Thank you to everybody for being here today. It’s been just a real blast just being here in Japan. It’s been a great time serving almost 33 years in the Air Force and as I leave here, I can say I’m proud to have been the commander. I’m proud to have led Airmen. I’m proud to have worked in a joint position. But the thing I am truly proud of, and I will tell everyone in the world, is that I am proud I lived in the great country of Japan.

Arrigato gozaimasu, thank you very much.


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