Japan Self-Defense Forces and civilians – side by side

As one would expect, US Ambassador Roos is tweeting about the tremendous and greatly appreciated effort of the US Armed forces in the relief efforts (@).  We read about both military sides, US and Japan working hand-in-hand during relief operations but I don’t see enough written in English about the great work by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) together with local volunteers.

These SDF guys are impressive. The group of  about 20 young and energetic infantrymen live right on the KitaIbaraki City office grounds in tents. They cook meals for thousands a day in mobile kitchens powered by kerosene and muscle. One thing that impresses is the care that goes into cooking and hygiene – everything is cleaned, washed, wiped and dried over and over again. The concern for germs and disease is real and these guys have a big responsibility as most of the hot meals they cook are delivered directly to the evacuation centers with infants and elderly.

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It is tough for our civilian volunteer group to keep up with them. When the two-ton truck arrived with bottled water to unload I heard one of them remark “was waiting to get my body in action, finally”. We formed a line of about 25 to unload the 600 boxes of 500 ml X 24 bottles into the storage area. These guys THREW the boxes to each other! while they then gently handed each one over to the civilian section of the human conveyor belt. They reminded us how laughter and grit can help overcome calamity and unite those into a common cause.

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The next day, we delivered 200 boxes of the water to the area infant resource center for final pick up by local families.
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Maybe the name should be changed to Self-Preservation Forces?

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