HARLINGEN

--  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.

Semper Fidelis

Thomas D. Segel

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