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David Kelts | How we found Wenatchee by living in Misawa, Japan

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I’ve had a close relationship with Misawa, Japan, for more than 40 years.

I went there to teach school on Misawa Air Force Base in 1973. My plan was one or two years in Japan, seeing the sights and enjoying the people. However, I didn’t move back to the U.S. to live until 2005.

How did I end up in East Wenatchee? I’m asked that often when my wife and I lead orientation classes for sister-city delegates going to Misawa every year in August. The truth is: it is because I lived in Misawa that I even heard about the Wenatchee Valley!

My wife, Judy, and I would watch the summer festival parades in Misawa. Every year we’d see a float with the visiting delegation from Wenatchee. We’d wave enthusiastically and welcome them to Japan. Then we’d wonder, where is Wenatchee and why is it the sister city of Misawa, Japan? That’s when we really learned about the Pangborn-Herndon flight of the Miss Veedol, the first nonstop flight across the Pacific in 1931.

One summer, we were visiting in Seattle and decided we’d go see what this Wenatchee was really like.

We drove over to the valley and immediately discovered that it is a special place. Our first impression was developed in a stop at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.

We thought that any place with such a wonderful museum had to be worth considering as a place to live.

Then we walked along the beautiful, flower-filled downtown streets and enjoyed talking to people and having a relaxed lunch. A little more driving around to see the views and we were sold.

We moved here after we retired from teaching at an Army base in southern Germany in 2005. Of course, by then, we also knew about the Leavenworth Bavarian Village. We figured we’d have access to all the delights we’d enjoyed in Japan and Germany right here in Washington state. And, we do.

Now we enjoy being involved in activities on both sides of the river.

We substitute teach in the Eastmont School District and try to talk about Misawa everywhere we go.

We are active in the Wenatchee Valley Misawa Sister City Association.

We urge citizens of the valley to visit Misawa either on their own or as official delegates. (Right now is a good time to reserve a spot on the August 2014 trip.)

You never know what the connection between Wenatchee Valley and Misawa will inspire.

It sure got us hooked!

David Kelts is the president of the Wenatchee Valley Misawa Sister City Association. He can be reached at