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 waves.
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
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
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."
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 northeastern coast.
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
"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."
ceremony, members from various JASDF units around the country gathered on the
Misawa flightline and welcomed the F-2 Fighter back with roaring
"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