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HH-60s deliver supplies to decimated Kessenuma City
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Two airmen carry medical supplies to an HH-60 prior to take off here, March 20. The 33rd Rescue Squadron successfully transported supplies to displaced peoples in Kessenuma City, in support of Operation Tomodachi. Kessenuma experienced massive destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Christopher Love)
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HH-60s deliver supplies to decimated Kessenuma City

Posted 3/20/2011   Updated 3/20/2011 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. Christopher Love
374 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from the 33rd Rescue Squadron flew two HH-60 helicopters to and from Kessenuma City, March 20, to deliver food, water and medical supplies to displaced people.

Kessenuma City, situated along Japan's northeastern coast, received a devastating blow from the tsunami, March 11, losing much of its oceanfront property and more to the waves. Some of those who lost their homes have taken shelter at the nearby Hashigami Middle School. And it was to this school that the HH-60s traveled, landing on a nearby field.

Despite the turmoil these survivors endured a week ago, they were in relatively good physical condition. "The supplies indicate that they're in good shape," said Lt. Col. Dave St. Onge, 33rd Rescue Squadron operations officer.

Among the roughly 500 pounds of goods transported on the mission were basic medical supplies, like Pepto Bismol and Pedialyte.

Colonel St. Onge praised the Japanese government for the orderly and efficient way they have been handling the recovery effort; a fact, he says, that receives too little mention.

"Each prefecture identifies its respective needs and sends the message up to the central government. They handle what they can; what they can't handle, they send over to us, said Colonel St. Onge. "

The 33rd Rescue Squadron is fortunate to have an Airman among them who speaks fluent Japanese. Airman 1st Class Veronica Cox has flown on multiple missions with the 33rd and put her talents to good use in speaking directly with the Japanese on the scene.

"We're singing Airman Cox's praises," Colonel St. Onge said." Through her interactions with the displaced Japanese, Airman Cox has been able to learn about various nuances in Japanese culture and has helped to shape the way the 33rd conducts it missions."

When asked about how the Japanese, she has spoken with, have responded to help from the 33rd, Airmen Cox noted: "They're grateful that we're here."

Such gratefulness was evident in the waves and handshakes of those present to receive the supplies in Kessenuma, as well as in their faces.

A similar feeling of gratefulness--albeit on the other end--exists among many of the U.S. and coalition forces involved in the relief efforts.

One HH-60 crew chief, Airman 1st Class Nicholas Borresen, has been apart from his wife for over a year, due to his unaccompanied tour at Kadena. Yet, in remarking on his experience this past week, Airman Borresen said, "It makes all the sacrifices worth it."

1/10/2014 6:51:31 PM ET
Searching for my son. I think it's him in the first pic. Is he ok Please contact me
M Rohde, 92024
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