Ospreys deliver relief supplies to Minami-Aso village to reflect the victim's voice
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- "What people in Minami-Aso village need are water, tents or sleeping bags. People can't sleep inside houses because they are very scared of tremors," said a victim of the earthquake who wishes to keep her name from being released.
When the magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook Kumamoto Prefecture on April 14, an Okinawan woman in her thirties from Ogimi village was staying at Minami-Aso village, Kumamoto, to take care for her aunt.
Aftershocks continued every single hour throughout the night.
Even though it was almost freezing temperature, a lot of residents in the village decided to stay outside houses due to the fear of the endless tremors.
While she was evacuating with her daughter, noticed a hot spring became abnormally hot. She then felt something unusual may occur again so she decided to leave the village earlier than scheduled.
The transportation network in Kyusyu was already devastated by the quake.
She managed to leave the village by a rental car trying to find the way back to Okinawa.
Just two days after the quake, "main quake" of magnitude 7.3 hit the prefecture, causing a large scale landslide in the village and swept away a 200 meter long bridge, where she used to take walks while she was in the village.
The TV news repeatedly showed the disastrous situation of the village where she was staying just a couple of days ago.
After returning to her home in Ogimi village on April 18, she was not able to stay calm, so she decided to visit the U.S. recreation installation Okuma Beach, near her home and asked the front staff for a help.
"In Minami-Aso, even elderlies are staying the outdoor because of the fear of the quake, so if the U.S. military sends humanitarian assistance relief to Kumamoto, I'd like to ask them to send water, tents or sleeping bags to keep the villagers warm."
Although receiving an unusual request, the front office staff, Mr. Toshiyuki Shingaki called a base operator immediately and the call was transferred to MCIPAC Public Affairs Office. Mr. Shingaki, who coincidentally graduated from high school in Kumamoto Prefecture, didn't think the request was outside of his responsibility.
MCIPAC PAO immediately transferred the request to a higher level. In the afternoon on that day, two Ospreys from MCAS Futenma departed from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Takayubaru base in Kumamoto landed on the park in Minami-Aso and delivered 1,200 bottles of water, 80 sets of tents, food and some others relief supplies to people in need.
"Thank you, thank you so much! So many people can't leave the village, but if they have tents, they feel much safer."
The relief supplies were not delivered to the village only by her request but the necessary items were surely delivered to people in the village. After this operation, her request was shared with the Marine Corps and all other related organizations.
She visited Okuma Beach again on April 20 and showed her appreciations to the beach staff.
"My aunt said she got fresh water delivered by Marines. She was very pleased."
Hakusui Sport Park, where Osprey landed, is located just in front of her aunt's house.
"I was surprised two Ospreys can land on such a small park. I heard deployment of Osprey is something controversial, but for me and a lot of people who experienced this disaster, how can we deny them when they can deliver relief supplies so quick?"
It was the first time in the records that the Kyushu was hit by a magnitude 7 level earthquake and it's hard to say how many years it will take to fully recover from the disaster.
The U.S. Marine Corps continues to support the JSDF's humanitarian relief effort in Kumamoto and cooperate with all other related organizations.