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LEAP Spotlight: Capt. Emily Stith

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

Capt. Emily Stith is a 38F (Force Support Officer) who has been a Japanese Language Enabled Airman Program scholar since 2016. Her father was a career U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer, and as the story of the military child goes, she was born overseas in Okinawa, Japan. After a short stateside stint, her father was then relocated to Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, where she spent her childhood and adolescence.


Her journey with the Japanese language began when her parents enrolled her in Japanese kindergarten off-base. She was fortunate enough to attend public Japanese school from kindergarten all the way through the eighth grade, after which she enrolled in the Department of Defense Education Activity high school on the installation. In high school she developed an interest in the Northeast Asian region, picking up Chinese while continuing her studies in Japanese. After receiving an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship, she went on to attend University of California, Los Angeles, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in both Chinese and Japanese, spending her summers in between Field Training and studying abroad in both Taiwan and South Korea.


During her time as a LEAP scholar, Capt. Stith has participated in multiple Training Partnership Requests from providing language support to events such as TEAK JET Japan with Air Force Special Operations Command and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force counterparts, to Exercise YAMA SAKURA with the U.S. Marine Corps and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force counterparts, and interpreted at the HAF/A4- JASDF ASO/A4 bilateral talks.


In January 2021 Capt. Stith deployed temporarily to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where she is working as a Dignified Transfer Officer in Charge at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations where she provided linguistic support for a Japanese family and JASDF DV delegation following the passing of a JASDF pilot, whose aircraft crashed in Montgomery, Alabama. It brought her great relief knowing her interpretation and translation efforts assisted in rendering dignity, honor, and respect to the fallen, while providing care, service, and support to the family. For Capt Stith, it was inspiring to be a part of a time-sensitive, real-world scenario that relied upon the upkeep of her fluency and intercultural knowledge.


LEAP has encouraged her to maintain her fluency, and resources like Language Intensive Training Events, TPRs, and eMentor have reinvigorated her passion for self-improvement and study. Capt. Stith said she looks forward to continuing her relationship with the LEAP program and networking with LEAP scholars she meets along the way.


–Japanese LEAP scholar Capt. Emily Stith

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