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Consul General of Japan honors service members' Operation Tomodachi efforts

Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, speaks with U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Air Force members from Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, during a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, speaks with U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Air Force members from Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, during a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

Capt. Joshua Carlson, 1st Space Operations Squadron mission commander, presents Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, with a unit coin during his visit at a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The event was hosted so the Consul General of Japan could thank military service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi. Operation Tomodachi was a relief mission conducted in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

Capt. Joshua Carlson, 1st Space Operations Squadron mission commander, presents Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, with a unit coin during his visit at a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The event was hosted so the Consul General of Japan could thank military service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi. Operation Tomodachi was a relief mission conducted in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, expresses his gratitude for the help military service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Nearly 20,000 U.S. military personnel participated in Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

Ikuhiko Ono, Consul General of Japan, expresses his gratitude for the help military service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Nearly 20,000 U.S. military personnel participated in Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, U.S. Northern Command, speaks at a Kizuna Project event about his involvement in Operation Tomodachi March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Davis spoke about his firsthand experience witnessing the devastation that took place in Japan in 2011 while on the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, U.S. Northern Command, speaks at a Kizuna Project event about his involvement in Operation Tomodachi March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Davis spoke about his firsthand experience witnessing the devastation that took place in Japan in 2011 while on the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

25 Japanese students from Sendai, Japan take a photo of the Japanese flag and Colorado state flag March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The students from Japan came to convey a message of appreciation to military service members and others who extended assistance to Japan after the tsunami and earthquake devastation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

25 Japanese students from Sendai, Japan take a photo of the Japanese flag and Colorado state flag March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The students from Japan came to convey a message of appreciation to military service members and others who extended assistance to Japan after the tsunami and earthquake devastation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

James Laurie, also known as Jonny 5 and founder of the American musical group Flobots, gives opening remarks during a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Laurie, while in high school, participated in a foreign exchange student program which allowed him to spend time in Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

James Laurie, also known as Jonny 5 and founder of the American musical group Flobots, gives opening remarks during a Kizuna Project event March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. Laurie, while in high school, participated in a foreign exchange student program which allowed him to spend time in Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

25 Japanese students from Sendai, Japan take a photo of the Japanese flag and Colorado state flag March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The students from Japan came to convey a message of appreciation to military service members and others who extended assistance to Japan after the tsunami. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

25 Japanese students from Sendai, Japan take a photo of the Japanese flag and Colorado state flag March 22, 2013, at Littleton High School, Littleton, Colo. The students from Japan came to convey a message of appreciation to military service members and others who extended assistance to Japan after the tsunami. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Paul Labbe/Released)

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."
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