YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011 — Vice President Joe Biden thanked about 1,000 military and civilian personnel from Japan’s Kanto Plains here today for their role during Operation Tomodachi, partnering with agencies worldwide to provide assistance in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The vice president stopped at Yokota during his nine-day tour to China, Mongolia and Japan, where he met with key leaders to discuss a full range of bilateral, regional and international issues. “I’ve visited military bases all over the world, and what you did here in Japan over the past few months is nothing short of astounding,” Biden said. “I come here for a simple reason, on behalf of the president and myself, to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you not only for saving thousands of lives. Thank you for making America look as good as we are.’ ”
The vice president shared about his pride in the service members for their role in aiding the people of Japan.
“All the American people are in awe of what you do day in and day out, especially when you rise to the occasion of the most difficult times,” he said. “You guys are awe-inspiring. You were part of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in U.S. history. It was a truly monumental operation.”
Biden noted the importance of the relationship between the United States and Japan, and he told the service members and civilians they have an essential role in that partnership.
“The role you all play is going to become increasingly important, and our alliance with Japan will be more important than in the past,” he said. “It continues to be absolutely critical, and you are the glue that holds this all together. You’re the ones ensuring this alliance remains effective.”
After his remarks, the vice president posed for pictures with service members.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Alicia Greene, 374th Wing staff agency unit deployment manager, said she appreciated Biden’s words of gratitude and encouragement. “It is really great that Vice President Biden took the time to come here and thank us for all that we did during Operation Tomodachi,” she said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)