U.S. Air Force Helping Rebuild Japan Airport

Posted Mar 29th 2011 10:30 AM

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sendai airport

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Located in the path of the devastating tsunami that hit Japan, Sendai Airport was hit hard, with runways covered in rubble and thousands of airplanes and vehicles scattered about. But it is now being used as a humanitarian aid hub, thanks to help from the U.S. Air Force.

After the devastation, some thought the airport would be a total loss, reports CNN. In fact, when Colonel Makoto Kasamatsu from the Japan Self-Defense Forces is asked if he thought the airport would be able to be reopened, he replies, "To be honest, no."


Col. Rob Toft, of the U.S. Air Force Special Operation tells CNN that even TV or Hollywood with "their greatest special effects" couldn't do justice to the destruction he saw at the airport when he first arrived.

Roughly 20,000 U.S. troops have been mobilized in "Operation Tomodachi," or "Friend." It is the biggest bilateral humanitarian mission the U.S. has conducted in Japan, its most important ally in Asia, reports NPR.

At the airport, U.S. Air Force air traffic controllers guide in cargo planes, while the clean-up continues by various branches of the U.S. military as well as Japanese military personnel and civilians. The second floor serves as a command center.

Capt. Robert Gerbract, who is in charge of the U.S. Marines' cleanup operations, tells NPR, "It looked like if you had left an airport alone for 1,000 years. It was like an archaeological site. It was hard to figure out where to begin."

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