US Marine Corps, March 24, 2011 - NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan - Marines assigned to Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force provided much-needed support to Marines and sailors, as well as Japanese counterparts in Sendai March 23.
In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coastal city of Sendai in northeastern Japan March 11, Marines and sailors assigned to III MEF have been working steadily in support of the disaster relief efforts known as Operation Tomodachi.
“We are here to support any communication-related needs during Operation Tomodachi,” said Sgt. Giovanie Maldonado, a wireman with MWCS-18.
The squadron has spent the past week providing constant support to those in need, whether fellow Marines assisting the relief efforts or Japanese counterparts focused on rebuilding the damaged areas of their country. The squadron is operating as they would on a deployment, handling the need for communication with an unprecedented sense of urgency.
“We are providing communication to our satellite sites that are unable to communicate properly with the outside world,” said Maldonado.
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, which is currently operating alongside MWCS-18, has been conducting continuous operations in support of the relief efforts. More than 100,000 pounds of food, fuel, water and supplies have been delivered by Marines from HMM-265 to areas of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami March 12-23.
Also, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, in coordination with III MEF, has been working around the clock to provide fresh water and other supplies to disaster-stricken areas.
As of March 24, III MEF and the 31st MEU have delivered 341,000 bottles of water, including 24,000 bottles from Okinawa, 48,000 bottles from Hawaii, and 269,000 bottles from the Republic of Korea.
The government of Japan is taking the lead on all relief efforts, and the U.S. military is providing aid and support as requested by Japan. The name Tomodachi means “friends” in Japanese, and was chosen by Japan.