Consul General of Japan honors service members' Operation Tomodachi efforts
By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 26, 2013
LITTLETON, Colo. -- The Consul General of Japan thanked service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi during a Kizuna Project event at Littleton High School March 22.
Operation Tomodachi, which means friendship in Japanese, facilitated relief efforts for Japan after the tsunami and earthquake in 2011. It involved the combined efforts of 24,000 American military members, 189 aircraft and 24 Navy ships, according to The Japan Times.
"We Japanese people, when we faced such harsh conditions, received so much assistance from throughout the world," explained Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, "but support from the American people and American military, our friendliest ally, had a very special meaning for us."
Air Force members from the 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. provided assistance with satellite imagery -- their bread-and-butter operation.
"Once we received notification of the earthquake we were tasked to take images of the nuclear reactor and the surrounding areas to detect the spread of radiation," stated Master Sgt. Herbert Mosier, 1st SOPS. "We told people where to avoid. We provided a broad picture of what were in fact danger areas and what places to avoid."
Capt. Paul Newell, 1st SOPS, said the purpose of the squadron's efforts of providing images of irradiated zones was to keeping civilians away from danger and saving lives.
Throughout the operation, American service members worked alongside the Japanese Self Defense Forces to clean up the effected regions.
"We have the same values of freedom and democracy, and for the peace keeping of the world, it is very important for our country to cooperate with the United States," Ono said. "The Japanese Self Defense Force and the United States military have a very good cooperation."
Tech. Sgt. Rodney Hamilton, 4th SOPS, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., who was stationed at Misawa Air Base, Japan, when the disaster struck explained his reaction to the overall in the wake of the tsunami's destruction.
"To see how fast something that you think would never happen, could happen in a moment's notice. Just to see the destruction," Hamilton said. "It really moved me to see how everyone came together to clean up the place and help everybody out."