By Senior Airman Stephanie Serrano
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. For some, it also marks a reason to serve their country and honor those who lost their lives. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Kumiyama, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron career assistance advisor, is one of those people.
As an aircraft maintainer by trade, Kumiyama, who has served as an active-duty service member for 15 years, goes above and beyond to give back to his peers, co-workers and community.
“I’ve absolutely loved serving in the military,” said Kumiyama. “I’m third generation military. It’s what the Kumiyamas do: we serve our country.”
Kumiyama is currently involved in the Top 3, a privatized organization on base; Fleet Feet, a local running store that he trains with; and Team Red, White and Blue, a national non-profit organization for veterans.
“The main purpose of Team Red, White and Blue is to get people together,” he said. “We want to get them out of isolation and get them involved with people who care about them and want to help them be a part of the community.”
Kumiyama initially got involved with Team Red, White and Blue a couple years ago through an old supervisor. However, he did not realize the effect it would have on him until he decided to run the Air Force marathon in 2015.
Team Red White and Blue’s chapter in Dayton, Ohio, hosted a pre-race dinner and social for those running the marathon. It was there Kumiyama connected with people from all over the world. He was able to run the race the next day knowing everyone was encouraging each other to do the best they could.
The site he saw that day – with people running with the American Flag or wearing the logo of Team Red, White and Blue as well as the connections made – is what made him really want to be involved.
“The people I have had the opportunity to meet and to impact their lives as well as for them to impact my life is why I continue to stay connected,” Kumiyama said. “We need people. People need each other – whether it’s going out for a run or bike ride – the connection is the biggest thing.”
For the anniversary of 9/11, Kumiyama, together with Team Red, White and Blue, wanted to give back and honor those lives that were lost 15 years ago. The group hosted a 7-mile memorial run that started and ended at the Arkansas State Capitol Building Sept. 11, 2016.
The group ran carrying the American and POW/MIA flag, stopping at each mile to read a dedication card about the seven fallen Arkansans who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.
“We just wanted to show our respect to them,” Kumiyama said. “We want to do our best to thank them and honor them for giving their lives.”