HomeNewsArticle Display

U.S., Japan remember the Great East Japan Earthquake

(From left) Lt. Col. Ryan Wong, 374th Airlift Wing inspector general, Master Sgt. Joshua Brown, 374th Airlift Maintenance Squadron, 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer aircraft section chief, Nobuhito Takeda, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, and Masuhiro Shinozaki, shovel dirt for a plum tree during a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. These individuals represented the different groups of the base and personally supported relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

(From left) Lt. Col. Ryan Wong, 374th Airlift Wing inspector general, Master Sgt. Joshua Brown, 374th Airlift Maintenance Squadron, 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer aircraft section chief, Nobuhito Takeda, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, and Masuhiro Shinozaki, shovel dirt for a plum tree during a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. These individuals represented the different groups of the base and personally supported relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing commander, and Takahisa Matsuda, North Kanto Defense Bureau director general place a wreath at the base of a Japanese flagpole during a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. The wreath represents the loss of nearly 16,000 lives during the earthquake, and the tsunami that followed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing commander, and Takahisa Matsuda, North Kanto Defense Bureau director general place a wreath at the base of a Japanese flagpole during a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. The wreath represents the loss of nearly 16,000 lives during the earthquake, and the tsunami that followed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Takahisa Matsuda, North Kanto Defense Bureau director general, speaks at a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. Matsuda thanked the 374th Airlift Wing for the support provided during the natural disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Takahisa Matsuda, North Kanto Defense Bureau director general, speaks at a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. Matsuda thanked the 374th Airlift Wing for the support provided during the natural disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing commander, speaks at a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. Campbell spoke about the importance for a continued partnership and strong friendship with the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing commander, speaks at a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. Campbell spoke about the importance for a continued partnership and strong friendship with the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Commercial aircraft sit on the flightline here March 11, after diverting from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan. The base opened its airfield to commercial aircraft after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Commercial aircraft sit on the flightline here March 11, after diverting from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan. The base opened its airfield to commercial aircraft after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airline passengers take shelter inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. American Red Cross volunteers provided blankets, pillows, food and water for aircraft passengers whose planes were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, following an earthquake near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airline passengers take shelter inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. American Red Cross volunteers provided blankets, pillows, food and water for aircraft passengers whose planes were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, following an earthquake near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

Airmen, Marines and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers load cargo onto a JGSDF truck at Sendai Airport, Japan, March 20. Since the reopening of Sendai Airport March 16, humanitarian aid supporting Operation Tomodachi has been able to be airlifted in more quickly and directly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Airmen, Marines and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers load cargo onto a JGSDF truck at Sendai Airport, Japan, March 20. Since the reopening of Sendai Airport March 16, humanitarian aid supporting Operation Tomodachi has been able to be airlifted in more quickly and directly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --

The 374th Airlift Wing hosted a ceremony for the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Operation Tomodachi support efforts at the wing headquarters building March 11.

The wing, alongside representatives from the North Kanto Defense Bureau and the surrounding municipalities’ friendship club, honored the nearly 16,000 individuals who died and more than 2,500 who went missing during the earthquake and tsunami that followed.

“The earthquake centered 15 miles below the sea to our north-east was devastating in its own right … however, on March 11 [2011] it was the sea that brought the worst devastation,” said Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th AW commander. “It was the sea that so tragically claimed the lives of over 18,000 people, and shattered the lives of so many more.”

During the memorial, Yokota and Japanese visitors observed a moment of silence, laid a wreath and planted a plum tree, which signified the continued alliance between the two countries.

“NKDB will seek to be a solid foundation of mutual cooperation and collaboration with the U.S. Forces and local organizations,” said Takahisa Matsuda, NKDB director general. “I would like to say that many Japanese people are grateful for the strong and warm support of Operation Tomodachi, which was provided by our ally, the United States.”

Operation Tomodachi started the day the earthquake hit, when Yokota was used as an alternate landing location for 11 diverted flights bound for Narita Airport. That day, the base welcomed almost 600 individuals who were temporarily displaced.

In the following weeks, Yokota became the control center for the military’s humanitarian support efforts to Japan. From Yokota, the U.S. military aided with search and rescue operations, clean-up efforts, essential needs supply and cooling the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown.

“The 374th Airlift Wing, and all of Team Yokota, moved swiftly, not to fight as our Latin motto says, but to render care and support to a treasured ally in need,” said Campbell. “Today, as we pause to remember with sadness those lost to the Great Tohoku Earthquake, we can also find pride and happiness as we reflect on how we responded, together as friends and allies, in its aftermath.”