Posts Tagged ‘Japan’
Here is an interesting tale from the Japanese tsunami. As part of the US relief efforts, we are cleaning the school up so that it can resume its original task, education.
Fire trucks raced down the street as sirens blared and fire men shouted “the tsunami is coming, the tsunami is coming,” Takayuki Watabe, the chief curriculum coordinator at a school in Matsushima, Japan, recalls the day the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the area, March 11.
“As they were driving the tsunami was following right behind them,” Watabe said. “They arrived at the school and made it upstairs before the tsunami struck, but unfortunately some of the elderly stayed in their homes and didn’t make it.”
The children and teachers, who were at school at the time, were safe from the wave that was rushing toward them at an estimated speed of approximately 200 mph.
“We were worried because if the water levels had risen anymore it would have flooded the second floor,” Watabe explains. “We pushed kids back from the windows, but a few were still able to see their houses wash away.”
After all of the lights and ways to communicate with the outside world went dead, the children and teachers had to wait a few days in the damp, cold conditions before some of the parents arrived.
“Once the children saw a few of the parents march across the field to the school, their morale raised and they began to encourage each other,” Watabe said. “A few kids lost parents and grandparents, but the teachers went to the shelter with them and still gave classes in the new location.”
Since the events ravaged the Tohoku and Kanto regions of Japan, the U.S. military has provided assistance by cleaning-up a few of the local schools, which includes the Matsushima school.
“We just want to help,” Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, the commanding general for U.S. Army Japan and I-Corps (FORWARD), said.
The U.S. Military’s role is to assist and augment the efforts and capabilities of the Japanese government by cleaning schools, providing showers and kerosene, handing out backpacks and playing music for displaced citizens.
Watabe sees hope for the children because of the role the joint efforts of the U.S. and Japanese military.
“There were 400 people huddled together that night offering encouragement to each other,” Watabe said. “Thank you for helping to clean the schools so that eventually the children can come back.”
Story by Spc. Cody Thompson
A team of Marines specifically trained to operate in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological environments is deploying to Japan, Defense Department officials said today.
A 155-member initial response force composed of Marines from Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md., could arrive in Japan as early as tomorrow, said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The unit is part of the Chemical, Biological, and Incident Response Force. The initial response force will support the U.S. on-scene commander by providing a rapid response capability. If requested, it could also advise Japanese authorities.
The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive materials, and the extent of the damage to the plant is not known. The Marine force will bring equipment for agent detection and identification; casualty search, rescue and personnel decontamination; and emergency medical care and stabilization of contaminated personnel.
U.S. Navy barges containing 500,000 gallons of fresh water from Yokosuka are being used at the crippled nuclear power plant. The water will be used to replace salt water in the reactor cooling system to lessen the corrosive impact of salt from the sea water still being used for emergency cooling.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Department of Defense
Hat tip to Information Dissemination
The U.S. military continues to assist the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible Defense Deparment family members. To date, a total of 7,001 eligible family members, including 394 pets, have been transported in the voluntary authorized departure, known as Operation Pacific Passage. Most families choosing to temporarily relocate were transported by military contract aircraft. The few remaining family members will be transported over the next few days.
Joint Task Force 505 was recently established to conduct Operation Pacific Passage at the direction of the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Robert Willard.
“Our current focus has the been the orderly processing and movement of eligible military family members who have chosen to temporarily relocate to the United States,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Bases Japan, and commander of the recently established Joint Task Force 505.
“We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our personnel during this dynamic time. The safety of our military personnel and family members remains a top priority,” he added.
On March 17, the office of the under secretary of defense authorized DoD eligible family members, located in selected prefectures on the island of Honshu, Japan, to depart for designated locations of the United States and other designated safe haven locations.
“These actions will in no way diminish ongoing relief operations in support of the government of Japan,” said Glueck. “We remain absolutely committed to this effort for as long as our assistance is required.”
A joint task force is a command with a specific designation that is composed of two or more military departments, operating under a single commander. It is capable of responding to the full range of contingencies across the operational scale such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
Joint Task Force 505 is headquartered on Okinawa with a forward operating element at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo.
Salvage support is increasing with the arrival of the Rescue and Salvage ship USNS Safeguard, along with personnel and assets from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, and Underwater Construction Team 2 March 25, 2011.
Their salvage recovery missions will assist the Japanese Coast Guard as recovery efforts continue in the city.
Safeguard, stationed in Sasebo, Japan, is the Navy’s only forward-deployed rescue and salvage ship. It is specifically designed to perform combat salvage, lifting, towing, manned diving operations, and provide emergency repairs to stranded or disabled vessels.
The salvage ship, which was transferred to the Military Sealift Command in 2007, has a crew that consists of civilian contractors and sailors assigned to the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One. The ship and the crew’s expertise will play a vital role in clearing waterways in the area of debris and sunken wreckage.
“We are here under a request by the Japanese government to provide support. Whatever we can do to help them in any way we are willing to do so,” said Lt. Cmdr. Peterson, 7th Fleet salvage officer and coordinator of the Safeguard. “The teamwork with the Japanese has been incredible and we look forward to working with them.”
Operating from a dock at FISC Yokosuka Fuel Terminal-Hachinohe, EOD Mobile Unit 5 and UCT 2 are working together to clear wreckage from a local commercial channel. With it cleared, the Japanese ships will be able to transport supplies and fuel to northern Japan.
UCT 2 is providing underwater surveillance imagery with side scan sonar equipment. Once their scanning is complete, their findings are shared with the Japanese Cost Guard. Once the location of wreckage is determined, markers are placed and EOD divers go into the water for a more thorough inspection. From this point, both Navy and Japanese Coast Guard form a collective plan to remove the wreckage.
EOD Mobile Unit 5’s Intelligence Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist James Isham from Mackville, Ky., said the Japanese have been doing a great job with their salvage efforts and that working with them has been a great experience.
“It’s been very easy working with them and a real honor,” he said. “It is nice to be able to be helpful and to assist our allies. With this port clear, they will be able to get needed supplies to the people, especially heating fuel.”
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Devon Dow