Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Michael J. Yaguchi, U.S. Air Force, Ret., was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. A graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Yaguchi served over twenty-seven years in the US Air Force as a noncommissioned officer and commissioned officer. He continued his service to the nation with the federal government as deputy director of strategic planning at the Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and as director, nuclear policy and director, human capital at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense.
His non-profit work started at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota when he became the first executive director of a new on-base tutoring program called ‘Above and Beyond.’ This program was eventually recognized with the Points of Light Award from the former President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation.
During this tour in Omaha, Nebraska, Yaguchi was also selected to attend United Way’s Blueprint Program, a highly selective program designed to train minorities to serve on national non-profit boards or committees.
In 1999, Lt Col Yaguchi served as a mission commander at the newly formed Defense Threat Reduction Agency where he led joint service, military and civilian teams conducting politically sensitive and highly intrusive inspections of former Soviet Union air, sea and ground based nuclear forces under two different arms control treaties – the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START, and the Intermediate and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
He also served as the chief of protocol for U.S. Forces Japan, Yokota Air Base, Japan where he either oversaw or facilitated visits by distinguished guests, including the President of the United States; Cabinet Secretaries, Congressional members, and the Service Chiefs to name a few. Following his overseas tour, Lt Col Yaguchi was reassigned as an executive officer for the On-site Inspection Directorate at Headquarters, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Washington D.C. He retired in 2006.
Following his Air Force retirement, Lt Col Yaguchi served as a senior national security analyst in support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in 2009, he became the director of nuclear policy at the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy. As OSD Policy’s lead representative to the intra- and inter-agency’s backstopping effort, he regularly led the development of detailed responses to negotiator queries and detailed plans for next steps as negotiations with the Russian Federation. He was a key bridge between the arms control process and the Congressionally mandated 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. Yaguchi was awarded the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Service Medal in recognition of his direct and central role in negotiation and ratification of the New START Treaty determining basic U.S. negotiating objectives on behalf of the Department of Defense.
He later developed a new leadership development program for OSD policy directors. The first ever twelve week program addressed key ‘soft-skills’ along with the principles of leadership. The response from the first cohort was an overwhelming success, prompting the Under Secretary to create a new program management office (i.e., Leadership Development Program Office) to manage this new leadership developmental program.
Lt Col Yaguchi currently serves as the executive director for the Japanese American Veterans Association and recently served out his term as a board director and executive secretary for the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. He is in his eighth year on the board of governors for the Go For Broke National Educational Center located in Los Angeles, California.
He also continues to serve as an advisor to the National Veterans Network (NVN), which led the effort to secure the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) for Nisei Soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service during WWII. NVN also worked with the Smithsonian to send the CGM on a seven city national tour, and to the development of a digital online exhibition to accompany the permanent CGM display. In May 2016, the digital online exhibition for the Nisei Soldier CGM display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Lt Col Yaguchi is a founding member and past executive director of the Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentors organization, and his seven-year tenure with PPALM was recognized with their 2015 PPALM Excellence in Mentorship Award.
He is also a director, veteran affairs and project manager at CSRA Incorporated, where he leads agile development teams providing custom application solutions for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Lt Col Yaguchi’s military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Combat Readiness Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Air Force Reserve Medal with one oak leaf cluster National Defense Medal with bronze star; Humanitarian Service Medal; and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. His Department of Defense civilian awards include the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Service Medal with Bronze Palm, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Team Award.
Lt Col Yaguchi has received additional recognition during his time in the military. In 1989, he was recognized as the Company Grade Officer of the Year (CGOY) by the 321st Strategic Missile Wing, then again at the 42nd Air Division at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. In 1993, Captain Yaguchi was once again selected as the CGOY at the J2 Intelligence Directorate, U.S. Strategic Command and again at U.S. Strategic Command. He was the first Asian American Pacific Islander CGOY at US Strategic Command. Additionally, Yaguchi is the recipient of the Master Missile Operations badge, Master Space and Missile badge, Air Force Combat Crew badge, and Administration badge.
Current as of July 11, 2016