The Japanese military has expressed its gratitude to the Australian air crews flying around the clock in support of disaster-relief efforts on Operation PACIFIC ASSIST.
Colonel Hiroyoshi Ohura, a senior-ranking officer in the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF), welcomed the RAAF C‑17A Globemaster III back from one of its missions over the weekend transporting emergency services personnel, vehicles and equipment from Okinawa to the Japanese mainland for the disaster-relief effort.
Colonel Ohura was representing Chief of Staff of the Japan Air Self Defence Force General Shigeru ‘Rocky’ Iwasaki, who wished to express his personal thanks to the Royal Australian Air Force, Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin and the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith.
Operation PACIFIC ASSIST linguist, Wing Commander Sonja Halloran translated that the JASDF Chief spoke for all the Japanese people in expressing his country’s thanks for Australia’s assistance following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
“We were met on the tarmac by Colonel Ohura who was representing the Chief of the JASDF, General Iwasaki,” Wing Commander Halloran said.
“Colonel Ohura extended his thanks on behalf of the Chief, and wanted to make sure that we understood that they were very thankful for the efforts we had taken over the past few days.
“Following that, General Iwasaki rang personally and, through me, also extended his thanks to the team that had been working with the heavy transport aircraft.
“General Iwasaki also asked for his thanks to be passed on not only to the team that has worked so hard over the last few days but also to our Chief of Air Force, Chief of the Defence Force and the Minister for Defence.”
On Saturday, Minister Smith approved a week’s extension of the ADF operations in support of Operation PACIFIC ASSIST.
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