MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — For the first time in history, two MV-22B Ospreys deployed in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Japan April 18, 2016.
The Ospreys are with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, stationed on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, and arrived seven hours after being tasked at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, to provide operational airlift support for the Government of Japan’s relief efforts following the earthquakes in and near Kumamoto.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do some good while we’re here and drop off a lot of supplies and help out the people who are in need right now,” said Capt. Gray Gish, VMM-265 MV-22 Osprey pilot. “I feel honored to be able to offer my assistance and help in anyway that they need it. I am euphoric our squadron was asked to come here to support.”
VMM-265 departed MCAS Iwakuni and arrived at Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Camp Takayubaru to retrieve supplies including water, blankets and toiletries. From Takayubaru, the Marines dropped off the supplies at Hakusui Sports Park in Minamiaso Village, Kumamoto.
The long-standing alliance between Japan and the U.S. played an integral role in U.S. Forces Japan’s rapid, integrated support to the Japan Self-Defense Forces and civilian relief efforts.
“Two MV-22s went out with the MEU commanding officer to assess the damage of the earthquake, possible landing zones, bring supplies to the impacted areas and get an overall understanding of the situation and what we need to do to react to it,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Schultes, VMM-265 MV-22 crew chief. “I’m anxious to get out and help and being able to do something that’s making a difference. It’s a shamed what happened. So, I’m excited to go help people.”
The MV-22B Osprey is designed as the medium-lift replacement for the Navy CH-46E Sea Knight assault support helicopter. The Osprey can operate as a helicopter or a turboprop aircraft and offers twice the speed, six times the range, and three times the payload of the CH-46E, making it an ideal aircraft for providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations such as this one.