Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 25, 2017 at 10:41am

62nd OSS officer selected for Mansfield Fellowship Program

Maj. Rodger Welding (far left), 62nd Operation Support Squadron C-17 pilot, and assistant director of operations, poses for a group photo with nine other fellows selected for the Mansfield Fellowship Program May 16. Courtesy photo

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C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 62nd Operation Support Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will soon be on his way to Japan after being accepted for one of the world's most prestigious international fellowship programs.

Maj. Rodger Welding, 62nd OSS C-17 pilot and assistant director of operations, was recently selected to be part of the Mansfield Fellowship Program.

The Mansfield Fellowship Program, named after Mike Mansfield, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, U.S. Senate majority leader, and U.S. congressman from Montana, is a first-of-its-kind professional development and international exchange program for federal employees.

The one-year program gives Fellows unparalleled access to the Japanese government and allows them to experience the culture and language in order to become true experts on the country.  Through intensive language studies and professional placements within Japanese government ministries, participants in the program gain an insider's view of this close friend and ally of the United States.

"I felt incredibly lucky when I found out I was selected," said Welding. "The 62nd Airlift Wing (commander) has to approve me before I can apply and part of that approval process is the Air Force Personnel Center saying ‘yes' you can leave for a year."

Welding said that right now there is a pilot shortage, so he knew his chances of getting approved were slim.

"Once I got the approval from AFPC, I submitted my application," said Welding. "There are some very good people out there. I was competing against the best, and to be chosen for something like this to help fortify that US Japan relationship, is an honor."

The Mansfield Fellowship Program includes a seven-week homestay and intensive Japanese language program in Ishikawa Prefecture and ten months of professional placements in Tokyo.

During the year in Japan, Fellows will develop an understanding of the Government of Japan and its policymaking process. Fellows also establish relationships with their counterparts in GOJ and the business, professional and academic communities.  

"I grew up in Japan, lived there for 20 years," said Welding. "So, to me, Japan is my second home."

Welding said he found out about the program from a friend.

"I was stationed at Yokota from 2009-2012, and one of my friends did it and suggested it to me," said Welding. "At that time, I had a choice to do the fellowship first or do pilot training first then the fellowship later. So I choose to do pilot training first followed by fellowship, so that I can have my wings and be a regional affairs strategist to carry me through the rest of my career."

Welding stated that the country of Japan has a special place in his heart.

"My mother is Japanese, so being raised there, the US-Japanese bilateral relationship is important to me," said Welding. "I was able to give back to the U.S. by wearing this uniform and unfortunately in 2011 when the tsunami hit Japan, I was given the opportunity to give back to Japan by flying humanitarian missions. This program gives me the opportunity to give back to both countries.

"I am really looking forward to the professional and personal relationships that will come from this program.

"I don't think there is a word in the English dictionary that can describe how excited I am," said Welding. "This fellowship opens up doors that you can't get elsewhere. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm just extremely fortunate I am afforded the chance to experience it."

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