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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2023

In case of emergency: 459th AS supplies aid in joint, combined annual exercise

By Staff Sgt. Taylor Slater, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 459th Airlift Squadron, alongside members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, assisted the Tokyo Metropolitan Government with a disaster preparedness and response drill at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, Japan, Sept. 2.

“Even though we are in different branches and fly different helicopters, aviation is a language we all understand,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Colton McConnell, 459th AS UH-1N Huey instructor pilot. “Coordination [in the exercise] was very successful. It’s fun to see like-minded people do a meaningful mission in the Kanto Plains.”

Because natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis are an ongoing threat to the Tokyo metropolitan area and the Kanto Plains region, emergency preparedness is crucial to increasing readiness in the face of a crisis. In this simulated 7.3 magnitude earthquake exercise, UH-1N aircrew generated the helicopter and swiftly departed Yokota Air Base to downtown Tokyo with simulated humanitarian aid.

“These multinational drills enhance interoperability and ensure U.S. forces are prepared to engage with our partner nations at an effective level,” said Capt. Matthew Helm, 459th AS UH-1N instructor pilot.

Each participating team delivered their simulated aid throughout the course of the exercise to ensure the full readiness of all parties in case of emergency.

These exercises are designed to further strengthen disaster relief capabilities and promote proactive actions when the worst comes to pass. Yokota recently supported relief efforts in Guam following Typhoon Mawar, where the 374th AW aircrew and logistics specialists teamed up with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to package and airlift over 36,000 pounds of frozen foods and refrigerated perishable items to Andersen Air Force Base.


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