During my command of U.S Forces Japan and 5th Air Force, my family and I were afforded the opportunity to learn from and forge lasting bonds with our Japanese military counterparts. The US–Japan relationship is unique, and with careful nurturing will become even stronger over time.
JUMP plays a pivotal role in keeping us connected. In fact, through JUMP’s well planned and executed programs, events, social media, and other tools it strengthens our knowledge of, and appreciation for, Japan, its people and its culture.
General Ralph E. “Ed” Eberhart, UASF (Ret.) was Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Over the course of his military career, General Eberhart logged over 5,000 hours as a command pilot, primarily in fighter and trainer aircraft, including 300 combat missions as a forward air controller in Vietnam. General Eberhart was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan while serving as Commander of U.S. Forces, Japan.
My relationships with the soldiers, families and people of Japan were forged in daily life over the past decade during my U.S. Army Japan service and most recently as the Commander of U.S. Army Pacific. The results of these life-changing experiences with Japan led to a great, enduring respect for the Japanese people and the Self Defense Forces.
That respect was captured by the 2008 creation of our U.S. Army Japan motto, “ichidan,” which means “one team.” In good times, that teamwork was on display as we worked together on the Kanagawa plain or in Miyagi during the Yama-Sakura exercises. It also powerfully manifested itself when tragedy suddenly struck following the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, as we joined the Japan Ground Self Defense Force during the strong, cooperative effort of Operation TOMADACHI.
With ichidan in mind, I intend to continue to nurture those relationships, recall our teamwork together, and recognize the enduring importance of the JUMP program. After all, JUMP is a gathering place where we share our story and do our part in maintaining the U.S.-Japan alliance and the people-to-people relationships between our defense forces and families in the years ahead. It is also an important people-to-people program that continues to help us hold onto our relationships … and to live together as one team!
Lieutenant General (Retired) Francis Wiercinski is the senior vice president and managing director, Asia-Pacific region of Cubic Global Defense (CGD). He retired from the U.S. Army in 2013 at the rank of Lieutenant General, after 36 years of service in theaters such as Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While in the U.S. Army, Lt Gen Wiercinski served as the Commanding General of U.S. Army Japan and Commanding General of U.S. Army, Pacific.
Throughout my 41-year career, my most memorable and rewarding years were spent in Japan. The historical and cultural opportunities that my family and I were able to experience were only second to the true friendships we developed with our Japanese hosts.
I was the Commanding General of III MEF on Okinawa when Japan experienced the horrific earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. In that capacity, I committed the full capabilities of my Marines and Sailors to the immediate assistance of our beloved neighbors. We served side by side with the JSDF and other joint forces to aide and support the people of Japan. It was this selfless act of commitment that has proven to rejuvenate and strengthen our bilateral alliance; however, it is the strength of our personal friendships that stand as the cornerstone in this alliance, and I will never forget my close friendship with Gen Eiji Kimizuka.
JUMP provides us all who have served in Japan an opportunity to stay connected, relive our great experiences, and help to shape the future of the alliance.
Lieutenant General Kenneth J. Glueck Jr. led a distinguished 41-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps from October 1974 to October 2015. As a Naval Aviator, he flew both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft and held many command posts as well as general officer staff assignments during the course of his career. In January 2011, he reported to Okinawa, Japan, where he assumed command of III Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Forces Japan. In March 2011, he also commanded JTF-505 in support of Operation Tomodachi. Before retiring, he served as Deputy Commandant for Combat Development. Lt. Gen. Glueck has been a featured guest at several JUMP events and continues to support the program.
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