Japan, Okinawa
Comments 5

Operation Tomodachi

CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopters Leave Air Station Futenma on Okinawa

CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopters Leave Air Station Futenma on Okinawa - photo by Cpl. Dengrier M. Baez

Operation Tomodachi is the relief effort of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. Over the last couple of days planes and helicopters have been leaving bases in Okinawa and heading north. Some will be flying to Naval Base Atsugi, near Tokyo while others will probably head to Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture . (Tomodachi is the Japanese word for friend)

I will continue to post updates on my blog and the Chris Willson Photography Facebook page, but if you have family members in the US armed forces you can also get the latest information about the Marines in Japan at the III Marine Expeditionary Force Facebook page.

Some have asked if I intend to head up to the disaster area to photograph the events taking place. Logistically it would be almost impossible to get there from Okinawa by myself. It would be different if I could be embedded with part of the military or civilian humanitarian effort, but these are contacts that are difficult to make if you’re a lone photographer unaffiliated to a major news agency.

The latest news I’ve heard is that, along with 3 other trains,  one of the bullet trains that runs between Tokyo and Aomori is missing.  The Hachinohe to Aomori section was only finished in December 2010 and the new Hayabusa train only came into service on March 5th 2011. The fate of the passengers is unknown, and it is clear that rail travel along the east coast of Japan will be disrupted for the indefinite future.

This entry was posted in: Japan, Okinawa


Travel writer and photographer living in Okinawa, Japan


  1. Sherri Akitoye says

    This is a tradegy that continues to unfold. The pictures and video that I’ve seen. Are just heart breaking and to hear thAt entire villiages have been swept away is just too much for me to comperend. My prayers go out to the Japenese people and I pray that in the coming days, weeks, and months God’s peace and Mercy rain down upon that great nation and I pray protection, both emotional & physcial to those who are involved in relife efforts.

  2. Arlene Schneller says

    Thanks for your update, Tomodachi. I am also a photographer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and have friends and relatives in Okinawa and Tokyo Japan. I have visited both places several times and love the Japanese people. Thank you for your webcam photos, they helped me in reassurance that Okinawa was safe. I do have concerns about my friends and family in Tokyo.

  3. Bharat Shrinevas says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the updates and glad to know you are safe.

  4. Tom Amick says

    Hello Chris,
    I’m happy to hear that all is well in Okinawa. The devastation caused by the earthquake, and the tsunami are beyond comprehension for me. I have read many reports, and seen videos, but I cannot imagine what it would be like to go through such an event. It is good news however that the American troops are available to help in the relief efforts. Thanks so much for doing your part to get the news out.

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