by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/27/2015 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- In
the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011,
Japan Air Self-Defense Force members walked dazedly through the remains
of Matsushima Air Base, Japan. The remains of aircraft lay flooded along
the flightline, many of them F-2 Fighter jets destroyed by massive
Two months after the disaster, an Airman from the Japan Air Self-Defense
Force approached one of these F-2 Fighter aircraft and climbed onto its
wing. He pulled out a cloth and began cleaning it, unknowingly
beginning the recovery process of the beloved aircraft.
Now, more than four years after restoration began, the first
fully-repaired F-2 Fighter aircraft was welcomed to Misawa Air Base,
Japan, during a ceremony April 21 that signified more than just a
restoration of hardware. It was another mark of a country bouncing back
from a period of partial devastation.
It was a recognizable step in Japan's recovery from the disaster because
it was the first of 18 damaged aircraft belonging to the JASDF's 4th
Air Wing from Matsushima AB to be restored. The F-2 showcased at the
ceremony was one of six repaired aircraft scheduled to be deployed to
Misawa, which will be the new location for some upcoming JASDF pilot
training as Matsushima continues the rebuilding process.
"I was in Aomori, Japan, when [the earthquake] happened," said Yuuki
Nara, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management liaison officer.
"I followed the news and watched as Matsushima Air Base was washed out.
It was devastating."
The disaster struck Japan with a 9.0-magnitude earthquake March 11,
2011, and caused a wall of 30-foot-high water to obliterate parts of the
In response to the disaster, the JASDF, U.S military and other personnel
were deployed to help with rescue efforts. Monetary support,
restoration efforts and supplies were among the different types of aid
Misawa provided during Operation Tomodachi -- the U.S. operation to
support Japan in disaster relief.
"After base matters were resolved, Misawa reached out to the community
to offer their service to the victims of the disaster," said Nara. "All I
continue to hear about this base from Japanese citizens are good
things, especially because they helped us in our time of need."
During the ceremony, members from various JASDF units around the country
gathered on the Misawa flightline and welcomed the F-2 Fighter back
with roaring applause.
"This shows Japan has being recovering," said Maj. General Hirohide
Inoue, JASDF Misawa installation and 3rd Air Wing commander, while
addressing the crowd. Inoue said work is underway to ensure all
repairable F-2s affected will be restored to full condition.
Since the disaster, thousands of JASDF and U.S military members have
volunteered to work at Matsushima Air Base in an effort to restore it to
its previous condition. The recovery efforts of those affected shows
yet another sign of hope revealed in the remains of a tragedy.