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Ron & Don's Operation Airlift travels to disaster area to check on their donations


Rachel Belle of  97.3 KIRO FM interviews Brent Duncan in graveyard above Noda Village

The Misawa Air Base Public Affairs Officer asked me to take media personalities from Seattle to Noda Village, so they could see first-hand some of the recovery work of Misawa Air Base volunteers, and see where some of their donations have gone. The Ron & Don radio show had heard about the efforts of Misawa Air Base volunteers to provide relief for victims of the 2011 Northeastern Japan Disaster, and asked their listeners for donations. This became "Ron & Don's Operation Airlift: Japan", which dumped 45 tons of donations at the gate of Misawa Air Base. Misawa Air Base volunteers spent weeks sorting the donations and distributing them to orphanages and welfare centers throughout Northern Japan.

Ron & Don decided to check on what was happening with their donations, and arrived from Seattle last weekend. On Sunday, the Public Affairs Office took them to area orphanages to so they could see some of the children who were benefitting from their donations.

Sunday evening, Penny and I had the opportunity to join base officials and media personalities for dinner at Ohashi's for dinner. Heading the dinner was Air Force Captain Lee, the Misawa Air Base public affairs office, and his Navy contemporary, Captain Stanford. Ron Upshaw, a Seattle radio personality and Rachel Belle, a Seattle radio journalist were the guests of honor. As the individual who started the entire Ron & Don Operation Airlift project started with a phone call, Gemini Stanford was like a special guest of honor. I kind of felt like a crasher; honored to be asked to participate. It also doubled as a special birthday dinner for Penny. 

The next morning, I met Ron and Rachel at the Misawa Mayor's office, where they had just completed a meeting with Misawa City Officials. We filled an Air Force Van with toys and headed to Nodamura. Joining us were Seaman Barbara, a media specialist, Airman Steve, a photo journalist, and Noriaki Hori, a representative from the Misawa mayor's office. 

  • The Japanese Learn to Volunteer. An interview with Brent Duncan in Nodamura, talking about the changing face of volunteerism in Japan [Transcript>] [Podcast>]
  • OAJ-Ron and Rachel in Noda-Mura. Ron Sanford's iPhone broadcasts from Nodamura, showing interviews in the graveyard and relief center [Video Podcast >]
  • Ron & Don's Operation Airlift: Japan [Official site >]