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62nd Airlift Wing

Officer awarded elite fellowship via language, cultural skills

Published: 12:33PM January 9th, 2014
Officer awarded elite fellowship via language, cultural skills

Courtesy photo

Capt. Rachel Ianacone participates in a language immersion class in Japan.

Captain Rachel Ianacone, 62nd Operations Support Squadron airfield operations officer and 62nd Airlift Wing executive officer, received an early Christmas present this holiday season. She was notified Dec. 16 of her selection to the Mansfield Fellowship program.

“I felt like this was a dream come true,” said Ianacone. “I am extremely excited and grateful to be accepted in to the Mansfield Fellowship program.

“With my background in Japanese, I feel like this is something I have worked toward for most of my life.”

According to Ianacone, her acceptance into this program will help her build upon the Japanese language and culture foundation that she already has established.

Ianacone joined the U.S. Air Force in 2000 and has been at JBLM since 2011. She has been stationed at both Yokota Air Base and Kadena Air Base and completed her degree in Japanese language and culture. Prior to joining the military and while in college, she was an exchange student in Japan for one year.

“I am incredibly proud of Capt. Ianacone and her selection for the Mansfield Fellowship Program,” said Lt. Col. Dan Cooley, 62nd Operations Support Squadron commander. “She is uniquely poised with significant regional experience and the perfect background to serve in this elite group.

“During this intensive cultural immersion, Capt. Ianacone will continue to establish relationships and build on partnerships that support our strategic focus in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Ianacone explained that once the fellowship begins she will study Japanese for the first two months in Kanazawa while living with a Japanese family.

Then the next 10 months she will work with various Japanese organizations in Tokyo such as the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (Federal Aviation Administration equivalent), Japanese military and Japanese airlines.

All of this will be done so she can gain a deeper cultural understanding regarding how Japanese organizations make decisions and interact in the workplace.

“Being a part of this fellowship means that from this point forward, I will have two Air Force Specialty codes, Airfield Operations Officer and Regional Affairs Strategist, and will alternate between assignments in these two career fields,” said Ianacone. “When I have completed this program, I will be able to assist U.S. and Japanese policy and relations for the Department of Defense in the future, while still working as an airfield operations officer for the Air Force.”

Ianacone is slated to leave McChord during the summer of 2014 to start the Mansfield Fellowship Program and become another ambassador for the U.S. with Japan.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation was created in 1983 to advance the Mansfield’s life-long efforts to promote understanding and cooperation among nations and peoples of Asia and the United States.

The Foundation sponsors exchanges, dialogues and publications that create networks among U.S. and Asian leaders, explore the underlying issues influencing public policies, and increase awareness about the nations and peoples of Asia.