OSHIMA, Japan --
Approximately 170 Marines and Sailors from Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit left the USS Essex (LHD 2) beginning Operation Field Day in support of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, April 1.
The operation involves clearing and cleaning-up debris on the remote island of Oshima, which has been isolated since March 11 when the tsunami hit.
Along with the Marines and Sailors, four humvees, a dump truck, water truck and fuel truck were brought to the island via U.S. Navy landing craft to assist in debris removal.
31st MEU personnel are scheduled to assist in cleaning the harbor area to facilitate transportation of disaster aid and relief supplies to the island. The island, which is dependent upon ferry service from the mainland, was cut-off from the mainland when the tsunami washed its ferries ashore.
Marines and Sailors are also scheduled to remove debris from local schools and government buildings, under the direction of the JGSDF and local officials.
“The Marines and Sailors with the 31st MEU are committed to helping out the people of Japan in any way possible,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, 31st MEU commanding officer. “We have the capability and equipment to move ashore and assist the people of Oshima, and we are proud to help the Japan Self Defense Forces begin the large task of getting the island back to normal.”
For most Marines and Sailors with BLT 2/5, this is their first opportunity to help in the relief and recovery efforts.
“As the guys on the ground, we have a lot of manpower to assist our Japanese friends and neighbors,” said Lt. Col. Pete Farnum, commanding officer of BLT 2/5. “This gives us the opportunity to join in the ongoing humanitarian operations, and to help those in need.”
The 31st MEU’s involvement comes in support of the ongoing JGSDF response, after a 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan causing widespread damage. The 31st MEU is ready to support its Japanese partners and to provide assistance when called upon.
The 31st MEU provides a forward-deployed, flexible, sea-based force capable of supporting the ongoing Japanese humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.