Team Yokota observes Police Week, remembers fallen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Doan
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 374th Security Forces Squadron hosted a series of events May 15-18, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, to appreciate and commemorate police officers, who protect their communities with their lives, in honor of National Police Week.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, to pay tribute to the federal, state, and municipal peace officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty. He also proclaimed the week of May 15 as Police Week, to recognize the duties and responsibilities police officers take on as they serve the American people.

Continuing this tradition of remembrance, the 374th SFS began Police Week with an opening ceremony, wherein members of the unit heard about the history of the national observance. They then hosted a marksmanship competition, five-kilometer memorial ruck, and team challenge, inviting the on-base community to participate and test their skill, strength, and endurance alongside Yokota defenders.

For Master Sgt. Jose Romero, 374th SFS flight chief, these events served as meaningful moments for connection.

“Sometimes you see a cop at the worst moment in your life, and we get that,” said Romero. “So, through these events, we try to bring the community out with us to show them who we are, show them what we're about, but also show them that we're people too.”

Along with challenges and competitions, the 374th SFS held a static display and military working dog demonstration, educating the base populace about their role in the community.

“It honestly brings me joy to see the smiles and the appreciation that we get from families, just by showing them what we do and how we do it,” said Airman 1st Class Winston Udeh, 374th SFS base defense leader. “It makes me think that I joined the right field.”

To cap off Police Week, members of the 374th SFS came together for a retreat ceremony, honoring 28 police officers who have died on duty since 9/11. These individuals included 14 Airmen as well as 14 agents who served in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

“If we do not remind ourselves of what happened and what's important, we tend to forget it,” said Romero. “So, for me, it is extremely important to pass this tradition on, and hopefully future generations will do the same.”

Law enforcement is a job that never stops, but every year, when Police Week comes around, defenders at Yokota Air Base take a moment to pause and remember those who came before them, ensuring their legacies live on.