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Military Aircraft and Social Media: Help in Disasters

Updated on November 16, 2015

by JD Meyer

Like countless others throughout the world, I wondered what I could do to help Japan after their earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant disaster. Then I saw CNN accounts of convenience stores devoid of food and very orderly folks standing in line at the grocery store--ten-item maximum. I wondered if military helicopters could go to food warehouses--undoubtedly meeting modern hurricane-resistant standards--and fly the food past the flooded streets to grocery stores!

I decided that this story fits in with the sustainability in composition concept. Sustainability has gone well beyond its origins in environmentalism, according to the National Council for the Teachers of English (NCTE). Sustainability could be regional topics in composition--something meaningful in the student's neighborhood. In this case, sustainability is how to help an advanced country facing multiple crises.

My quest for answers began with two veteran friends at East Texas Work Force: Charles Miller of Project RIO and James Warren, the veterans' advisor.

  1. “U.S. Forces Provide Relief Aid to Japan,” by Fred W. Baker III. Operation Tomodachi (Friendship) involves mobilizing a wide range of US military assets. US Ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, declared, “We have units from all our service, with a multitude of capabilities, from medical to communications to civil engineering, poised and ready to support where needed.” Yokota Air Base is helping out with planes that can’t land at Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the US Naval Air Facility Atsugi have already delivered 1500 pounds of rice and bread to Shiroishi.
  2. "A Friend in Need: The United States Government Response to Japan’s Crisis." Here's the article that chronicles the US Department of Defense and other agencies efforts to help Japan after the earthquake and flood.
  3. “Social media connects Pakistanis to flood relief effort.” By US Air Force Central Public Affairs. This article on the use of social media after the Pakistan floods ended in this advice from the Secretary of State: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encourages the use of new social media to not only connect to friends and family, but also to provide a dialogue for understanding, share innovative ideas and important information, and to create social networks.” Facebook, flickr, and YouTube were used during the crisis; flickr is the photo-sharing branch of yahoo. The US Embassy in Pakistan opened a site on Facebook. Note that the photo shows a U.S. Air Force C-130H carrying thousands of Halal meals.

4. "U.S. Provides Support During Pakistan Flood (2010)." Within 36 hours of the flooding, U.S. Air Force C-130 and C-17 aircraft began aid flights on July 31, delivering more than 436,000 halal meals to Pakistanis in flood-affected regions.” Note which aircraft are used in the operations—much more in this article. Now as an archive, this link goes to many articles.

5. International Biomedical, an Austin-based company, is over 35 years old. Their medical products look like something you'd take to a flood-ravaged region. They provide "innovative products and technologies that will result in the best outcomes for the newborn infant, the critically ill, and their families." I found this site through "Helicopter Links." The largest helicopters have two horizontal propellers.

It's great to see what humanitarian efforts our US military can do. I wanted to add info from the Department of Defense website after my initial interview of the Work Force veterans. I bet these military aircraft could move groceries already in Japanese warehouses to wherever needed. This would utilize existing food in the flood-damaged countries.

Perhaps a definition of citizen journalism should include publicizing lesser-known websites, as well as the more familiar eyewitness accounts of events type of citizen journalism.


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