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Yokota provides support following massive earthquake

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Commercial aircraft land 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 hit near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Commercial aircraft land 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 hit near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Passengers exit a United Airlines flight 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 -- Passengers exit a United Airlines flight 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 -- 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 exit a bus at the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers were diverted here from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Delta Airline passengers exit a bus at the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers were diverted here from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Mr. Suzuki Hideto, 374th Force Support Squadron recreational specialist, and Staff Sgt. Jason Holmes, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, assist a passenger exiting a bus here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, due to an earthquake that struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Mr. Suzuki Hideto, 374th Force Support Squadron recreational specialist, and Staff Sgt. Jason Holmes, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, assist a passenger exiting a bus here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, due to an earthquake that struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- American Red Cross volunteers take accountability of Delta Airline passengers here March 11. The Taiyo Community Center offered food and shelter to aircraft diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- American Red Cross volunteers take accountability of Delta Airline passengers here March 11. The Taiyo Community Center offered food and shelter to aircraft diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

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)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airline passengers sleep in the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, due to an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airline passengers sleep in the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, due to an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John D. Partlow)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airlines passengers rest inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The base provided food and lodging for airline passengers diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Delta Airlines passengers rest inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The base provided food and lodging for airline passengers diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Delta Airline passengers take shelter inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The base provided food and lodging for airline passengers diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)
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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Delta Airline passengers take shelter inside the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The base provided food and lodging for airline passengers diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, after an earthquake struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- American Red Cross volunteers give boxed meals provided by the 374th Force Support Squadron, to passengers at the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, following an earthquake that struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)
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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- American Red Cross volunteers give boxed meals provided by the 374th Force Support Squadron, to passengers at the Taiyo Community Center here March 11. The passengers arrived to the base after their commercial flights were diverted from Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, following an earthquake that struck near Tokyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- At approximately 2:50 pm local time, Yokota Air Base experienced an earthquake measuring 5.0 in magnitude here March 11. While no injuries were reported on base and damage to facilities was minor, other regions did not fare as well.

The quake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude at its epicenter, and subsequent Tsunami waves, caused significant damage along the Japanese coast and disrupted flight operations at several Japanese airports including Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

In response to the crisis, Yokota Air Base became an interim landing site for 11 aircraft which were diverted from quake-stricken airports.

Yokota's airfield operations personnel guided the airliners safely to the ground and assigned ramp space to the new arrivals. Through the afternoon and into the night, Airmen provided these aircraft required servicing and fuel before departure to operational civilian airports.

By 10:00 pm local time, nine of the 11 aircraft had safely departed Yokota Air Base. Flight crews from the remaining two airliners elected to remain here at Yokota Air Base overnight, another challenge which Yokota Airmen promptly managed.

All 599 passengers were offloaded from their planes and lodged at the base's Taiyo community center. The facility, traditionally a large ballroom, was equipped with chairs, blankets, flight meals and water to keep the passengers comfortable until their aircraft could continue on its mission.

"We're pleased we were able to step in and fill this void," said Steven Mayfield, Chief of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, as he aided passengers at the community center. "It's a representation of not only Yokota's, but America's compassion to disaster situations."

The remaining visiting aircraft are currently scheduled to depart Yokota Air Base around mid-day today. Until then, Yokota Airmen will continue to provide relief and shelter to their unexpected guests.