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Going the Extra Mile in Language Learning

U.S. Air Force Col. Shane Vesely, left, 353rd Special Operations Wing commander, shakes hands with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Hidenori Ichigi, right, 2nd Tactical Airlift Group commander, in front of a U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II while U.S. Air Force Maj. Jacob McCauley, middle, 1st Special Operations Squadron director of mobility, looks on at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 28, 2021. Partnership between the U.S. Air Force and JASDF allows both forces to work together when responding to adversaries, ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte)

U.S. Air Force Col. Shane Vesely, left, 353rd Special Operations Wing commander, shakes hands with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Hidenori Ichigi, right, 2nd Tactical Airlift Group commander, in front of a U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II while U.S. Air Force Maj. Jacob McCauley, middle, 1st Special Operations Squadron director of mobility, looks on at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 28, 2021. Partnership between the U.S. Air Force and JASDF allows both forces to work together when responding to adversaries, ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Although new to the Language Enabled Airman Program, Maj. Jacob McCauley is not a newcomer to the realm of language training. Since childhood, he studied to become proficient in both linguist and technical languages.

“When I was 9 years old, I wanted to make websites about my hobby, Pokémon Trading cards. I found out about website design but realized I needed to learn HTML to make it. I realized I could make one more aspect of a website for every piece of code I learned. This lesson carried forward in life to one of my greatest passions, languages and travel,” McCauley said. “Just like HTML coding unlocked a new colored background or animation for my website, languages opened doors and avenues for travel and exploration. My interest in traditional language learning occurred as a means to travel when I was in high school. Our family exchange student from France taught me basic phrases. Motivated by this new secret ‘code,’ I realized I could now explore a new facet of the world. I initially started with French in high school, then a minor in College, followed by German, Spanish and Japanese.”

McCauley was recently selected into LEAP during the 2021 Active Duty Officer and Enlisted selection board as a Japanese Scholar.

“Being new to the program, the Defense Language Proficiency Test and Oral Proficiency Interview have been my primary means to measure my language growth. Every day is an opportunity to learn a new aspect of the language. I appreciate the personal tailoring of language training and am impressed with the degree of personal attention and instructional care I receive through LEAP. I look forward to blending my aviation career in Air Force Special Operations Command with Japanese language immersion,” he said.

While he has not formally provided language support organized through LEAP yet, McCauley goes the extra mile to utilize and enhance his language skills daily and has had the opportunity to provide support for his home unit, 1st Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, on several occasions.

“I use my Japanese daily. My neighbors are all locals who help me integrate with society. I enjoy serving as a liaison to the community while showing them that Americans can learn other languages and value their local customs and courtesies. I have also been able to go on multiple TDYs to integrate directly with Air and Maritime components of the Japanese Self Defense Force,” McCauley said. “Recently, I provided translation assistance for 5th Air Force, the 353 Special Operations Wing, JASDF, and the 18th Wing during Exercise SOUTHERN BEACH. I introduced Allied leadership to our MC-130J Commando II aircraft and presented a guided tour in Japanese. I’ve also had opportunities to use French while deployed to the Middle East.

“I am grateful for the opportunities the Air Force and Air Force Special Operations Command have presented. I am honored to serve in a translation and liaison capacity while strengthening ties between our INDOPACIFIC allied nations. My dream is to use my drive for languages in conjunction with directly supporting the AFSOC mission in the INDOPACOM AOR,” McCauley said.