Bamberg Marine part of disaster relief to Japan

A Marine with close family ties to Bamberg and Hampton, Private First Class Jesse A. Moody, is part of the 31st’ Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11, helping with disaster relief to the Japanese island of Oshima. Relief supplies, materials, and equipment arrived on Oshima Island, Japan Sunday March 27.

Japanese liaison officers were brought aboard the USS Essex to help the planning of humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations conducted by the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, during Operation Tomodachi.

“We have a team of three liaison officers aboard the USS Essex,” said Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Capt. Masanori Ide, one of the liaison officers. “Anytime the 31st MEU sends a request for information to the JSDF headquarters in Sendai, Japan, it goes through us. We translate and ensure they get what they need.”

The operation in Oshima was significant because before the 31st MEU arrived, the isolated community was only being supplied via airlifts. The 31st MEU was the only unit in the area that had the capability and manpower that was needed to really improve the situation there, added Ide.

“Because of the efforts of the MEU, we got power trucks to the island,” said Ide. “No one else could do that. The entire island had been without power for 16 days, and the MEU got it turned back on in one night, which gave the people light and heat.”

The marines delivered nearly 2,000 gallons of water to the Japanese island on Monday. Approximately 900 gallons were brought directly to a junior high school being used as a shelter for 450 locals displaced by the disaster, the first time the people were able to shower and do things they have not been able to do since the disaster happened March 11.

The Marines also delivered 1,738 meals ready to eat, 136 tarps and 300 heat and comfort kits to the Japan Self Defense Forces to distribute to those in need. In addition to delivering humanitarian aid, the Marines and sailors transported local electrical utility vehicles from Kesennuma City to Oshima Island to assist with restoring power to the isolated community.

“We are extremely grateful for your cooperation and help,” Sasaki Masaetsu, maintenance manager in Kesennuma, who rode an LSU (Landing Ship Utility) to Oshima Island. “We now have a 400 kilowatt emergency generator, two bucket trucks, one crane, and a tools and a materials truck, which arrived on your landing craft. We have 450 displaced people here on the island. These trucks will help us provide power for the displaced persons’ shelters and the remaining homes so they can have heat and light. It is an extreme honor to have the Marines here. We did not expect it and we are so thankful.”

The 31st MEU’s involvement is part of a larger U.S. government response after the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan causing widespread damage.

PFC, Jesse A. Moody is the son of Jody (Raffe) Andersson of Hampton, S.C. and Bill (Jean) Moody of Bamberg, S.C. Maternal grandparents are Sandra (Brent) Lawler of Greenville, S.C. Paternal grandparents are Ed and WadeDelle Moody of Bamberg, S.C. He has one sister, Savannah Moody of Orangeburg and one brother, Nicholas Groves of Hampton. Moody is a graduate of Wade Hampton High School, Hampton, and is from a three generation military family.