TOKYO, Japan | U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Moss, a Sioux City native, enjoyed his time in the spotlight after joining President Donald Trump on stage to begin the Commander in Chief’s swing through Asia earlier this month.
Moss presented President Trump with a leather flight jacket from the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base in Japan. Trump took the jacket, handed Moss his suit jacket and told Moss he could keep it.
“The most asked question I get is whether I kept the President’s coat,” said Moss with a laugh. “And, no, I didn’t keep it.”
Moss, 47, the son of the former Carol Johnson, of Hinton, Iowa, and Dan Moss, of Leeds, was born June 12, 1970, at St. Joseph Hospital in Sioux City. Dan Moss, at the time, was serving in the U.S. Air Force. The elder Moss now resides near Detroit, Michigan, while Kenneth Moss' mother, Carol Burbank, makes her home in Colorado.
Both Carol and Dan graduated from high school in 1968; she from Hinton and he from Leeds High School.
“We knew President Trump was going to stop at the base, but we didn’t know about the jacket presentation,” Burbank said. “I saw it live (on TV). I was pretty amazed.”
Col. Kenneth Moss, a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, serves as commander for the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, which is 20 miles west of Tokyo. He is responsible for the management, training, command and control of the Department of Defense’s only airlift wing in the Pacific theater.
As such, the base is responsible for the refueling and security of Air Force One when a President visits this area of the world, as President Trump did beginning on Nov. 5, when he landed at Yokota Air Base.
“We’d known quite a while about his visit,” Moss said. “We worked very hard to prepare for it. I was excited to be able to show off our base and it was extremely exciting for our airmen and the 11,000 people who live and work here, including our families and the nationals.”
Moss said it is rare for a President to deliver remarks to the troops while on the base. In fact, Moss said the 20-minute address by President Trump may have been a first for the base.
It certainly represented a first for him.
“The opportunity for anyone to meet a sitting President is small,” said Moss, who disclosed that he and his wife, Molly, met President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump backstage prior to the President’s talk.
“I presented him with the jacket backstage and it was President’s Trump idea to do it out on the stage,” Moss said.
Col. Moss said the President’s appearance and talk represented a shot in the arm for all those serving at Yokota Air Base as the excitement lingered for several days after the departure of the Trumps.
“For the whole base, it was fantastic,” he said. “There was so much excitement among the troops and our families, too.”
And for one Sioux City native, the chance to present a gift to a sitting U.S. President.
When I reached Moss late Friday afternoon, it was actually 6 a.m. Saturday on his base. He was starting his day by talking about getting the Christmas decorations up. He wanted me to share a final statement.
“Please let the people around Sioux City know how much their support of the military means to the men and women in uniform and their families,” he said. “We hope everyone there had a great Thanksgiving.”