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III MEF continues relief efforts in support of Operation Tomodachi

US Marine Corps News

3/13/2011
By Gunnery Sgt. J. L. Wright Jr., III MEF

MARINE CORPS BASES, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) are supporting Government of Japan-led humanitarian aid/disaster relief operations in mainland Japan following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck northern Japan March 11.

The MEF and its subordinate units are supporting the relief efforts through command and control, aviation and logistics assets.

In coordination with the Government of Japan, other U.S. government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, III MEF’s capabilities will allow the Marines to provide food, water, transportation and other relief support to those in need of assistance.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people that have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami. In support of U.S. Forces Japan, III MEF stands ready to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations to affected areas,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., III MEF commanding general.

Lt. Col. Karl C. Rohr, the assistant chief of staff, G-3 current operations for III MEF, said the proximity of aviation assets at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has allowed Marines from III MEF to rapidly deploy critically-needed supplies and aid to areas that need it most.

“In a matter of hours supplies, gear and manpower began flowing into mainland Japan with more to follow,” said Rohr.

Yesterday, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, departed Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa bound for Naval Air Facility Atsugi on mainland Japan.

“We are currently positioning our forces as quickly as possible to alleviate the suffering of the people of our host nation,” said Col. Robert M. Brassaw, the commanding officer of MAG-36, 1st MAW.

The squadron had assets flying from Futenma to support relief efforts within four hours of being tasked, explained Lt. Col. Damein M. Marsh, commanding officer of HMM-265, MAG-36. The rest of the squadron is scheduled to depart for mainland today, he said.

The helicopters will fly more than 1,000 miles over water while carrying rescue equipment to reach Atsugi. The helicopters are configured for the full spectrum of rescue operations to include: rescue ashore, patient transfer, casualty transfer, internal and external cargo transport and personnel transport, added Marsh.

These helicopters are "extremely maneuverable, versatile and environmentally friendly in urban areas," said Marsh.

The helicopters departing from MCAS Futenma will "provide commanders with the greatest flexibility of options" while conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, Marsh said.

KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, 1st MAW, were also used to transport supplies, equipment and personnel to mainland in support of the operations.



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