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Japan Disaster Help That May Not Have Made The News
Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Harlingen, Texas, March 28, 2011: My knowledge of life in Japan is now many years old, but I regularly communicate with my retired Army friend Jim White. He and his family have made Japan their home. Jim has kept us
updated on the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster
facing that country.
The one attribute I recall that the Japanese government and the people have is a reticence to ask for help when in need. Even when such help is
provided they still have difficulty addressing the matter publicly. Thus,
even with the thousands of American military personnel now stationed in and near Japan, we hear very little about their contributions to aiding disaster efforts or assisting the Japanese people. Jim White has been very good at reporting just what Americans are doing in the ongoing effort to bring some form of relief to those beleaguered people.
American relief efforts have been headquartered at the Atsugi Naval Air
Station, located a short distance from Tokyo. From there, military
leadership can direct what we are calling “Operation Tomodachi (Friend),”
which has included everything from rescue missions to food relief.
Navy and Marine helicopters have been evacuating survivors and flying food, medicine, clothing and water into remote villages, which due to the loss of roads and other infra structure can be reached in no other way.
More than 20 American ships have moved into the waters close to Japan’s
northeastern coast. Many of these ships have supplies and equipment so
needed to assist people who have lost everything. From the USS Ronald
Reagan an unending number of rescue and relief flights continue. As of a
week ago Americans had flown in more than 200,000 pounds of supplies to isolated villages.
Another function of the Navy ships participating in what some call our
largest humanitarian effort in years is to make pure drinking water. Water
is in huge demand in the earthquake stricken areas.
At the site of the nuclear damage fire trucks from American bases have been brought in to help cool down the reactors. The military are also providing reconnaissance aircraft to keep flying over the disaster area and monitor the nuclear radiation.
White reports that the Yomiuri Times, an English language newspaper in
Japan, has done some lengthy reporting on how the Americans are assisting their Japanese friends. Yesterday’s newspaper had an account of how we have provided two large fresh water barges the disaster crews can use to cool the reactors, which are corroded by salt water.
The Marines at Sendai airport have been assigned rescue and relief missions, but they are unhappy about not getting more assignments. They feel they could do much more if they were asked.
The Navy is hoping to clear one of the damaged ports in Hochinohe so
Japanese barges can deliver fuel. At that port, following the earthquake, a
total of 700 shipping containers and 200 cars remain unaccounted for and
nobody is sure what is under the surface of the water. Navy divers have
been brought in and an American ship with huge cranes has arrived to pull
out the wreckage. This is just one of six ports the U.S. Navy is planning
to assist in clearing.
With more than 50,000 military personnel based in Japan, the American armed forces are providing massive assistance. At the same time their actions have been very low key and without much publicity, not wanting to cause embarrassment to their Japanese hosts.
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