Originally published at Digital Journal, April 29, 2011

U.S. Military involvement in Japan tsunami-earthquake relief and recovery nears end as soldiers clear debris from small-town train station. U.S. Military sea and air units already finished.

After the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, U.S. Military personnel assisted in relief and recovery efforts.

All four branches participated, with between 15,000 and 20,000 service members helping to clean up, search for survivors, and recover the dead.

There are currently fewer than 100 soldiers on the ground, Army spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes.

Most of the U.S. Military efforts were carried out by sea and air units, which ceased operations the first week of April after Japanese authorities declined further assistance

The Army is the smallest element of the U.S. military in Japan, but its staff officers play key roles as liaisons with Japan’s Self Defense ground forces reports Stars and Stripes.

Operation Soul Train

About 40 U.S. soldiers and 16 SDF personnel cleared tsunami debris from Nobiru train station on the Senseki line in Higashi-Matsushima April 21. Trains stopped at 2:46 p.m. on March 11 when the tsunami destroyed the Senseki line tracks.

The cleanup of Nobiru station was named “Operation Soul Train”. U.S. Army Col. Alan Neyland said that the station is the soul of the town and by clearing debris at the station the project would bring together U.S. and Japanese soul.

U.S. soldiers have also cleared rubble from schools and have installed shower facilities at evacuation shelters. Soldiers have also entertained children and provided several band concerts.

About 36,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Japan and 5,500 American civilians are employed by the United States Department of Defense in Japan.

The Japan Self Defense Forces has almost 240,000 active personnel. More than 100,000 Japan Self-Defense Force personnel are engaged in relief efforts.


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