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Yokota Airmen deliver fuel to power Sendai Airport
Japanese media representatives interview Maj. Rob Mitchell, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot at Yokota Air Base March 24, 2011, after a flight to Sendai Airport, Japan. The 36th AS delivered 2,378 gallons of diesel fuel aboard a C-130H Hercules at the request of the government of Japan.
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Yokota airlifters deliver fuel to power Sendai Airport

Posted 3/24/2011   Updated 3/24/2011 Email story   Print story


by Beth Gosselin
374th Airlift Wing

3/24/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from Yokota's 36th Airlift Squadron delivered 2,378 gallons of diesel fuel to Sendai Airport aboard a C-130H Hercules in support of Operation Tomodachi March 24.

Team Yokota Airmen delivered the fuel to Sendai where it will be used to fuel generators and provide much-needed power. 

Until recently, Sendai Airport was closed due to severe damage after the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami in Iwate Prefecture March 11. However, teams from Japan and the United States cleared the debris and it's now a main hub for bringing humanitarian aid to those affected by the disaster.

Since the start of Operation Tomodachi, the 36th AS, at the request of the government of Japan, has flown 109 sorties and carried more than 360 tons of cargo to those in need.

"Eagle Airlifters have absolutely rocked during Operation Tomodachi," said Lt. Col. Tim Rapp, commander of the 36th Airlift Squadron. "The numbers only tell part of the story. We had crews in crew rest and a 24-hour planning, scheduling and flying operation in motion immediately after the tsunami, and launched our first two missions the very next day."

They have provided more than 46,000 gallons of fuel, in addition to food, water, blankets, and fuel trucks and transported more than 130 people in conjunction with the 459th Airlift Squadron, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 515th Air Mobility Operations Group.

Despite the 24-hour operations for 14 straight days, the 36th AS commander said the squadron is prepared to keep this pace up indefinitely, in large part thanks to the support from families.

"Our families have been highly supportive of the mission," said Colonel Rapp.  "They have put up with spouses and parents working 12-hour shifts, even longer flying days, and all the pressures of a continuous alert status."

He added that many of the spouses - despite having children and spouses deployed - have been providing hot, home cooked meals to the squadron twice a day.

For many supporting the mission though, the long hours and lack of sleep are worth it.
"The devastation is just incredible," said Capt. Rob Chance, a 36th AS pilot.  "Seeing it firsthand reminds me how important what we're doing actually is and this could be one of the most important missions I've flown as an Air Force aviator."

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