Operation Tomodachi

Photo by MSgt. Paul Holcomb

The US military responded quickly to the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan on 11 March with a formal relief effort, called Operation Tomodachi, or friend in Japanese. The initial response included several U-2 flights launched from Osan AB, Korea, starting on 12 March to capture high-resolution, broad-area imagery that was later used to determine locations and extent of damages. An MC-130H Combat Talon II crew with relief supplies landed at Sendai Airport on 16 March, marking the first fixed-wing aircraft to land at the airport of the hardest-hit Japanese city. A P-3 crew from Patrol Squadron 4 (VP 4) took to the air from NAF Misawa to conduct an eight-hour field survey of ports in northern Japan on 22 March. As of 24 March, US service members had delivered 1.7 million gallons of water, 172 tons of food, ten tons of medical supplies, and thirty-four tons of other relief supplies. US military personnel are continuing to work with Japanese emergency responders to search for bodies, clear airports and roads, and deliver humanitarian supplies.