Misawa Air Base in northern Japan has a reason to remember March 11th, 2011. As one of the eight military installations in Japan where the American Red Cross provides year-round support to U.S. service members and their families, it became a fluster of activity and chaos when the Japanese earthquake and tsunami struck last year. Immediately following the disaster, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a recommendation for voluntary departure for tens of thousands of military dependents stationed throughout Japan. Many families in Misawa were given 30 minutes to a few hours to pack and leave, not knowing whether they would be in the U.S. for days or weeks. For those families, the American Red Cross was there, providing support, helping with logistics and lending a helping hand.
To commemorate the one year anniversary, the American Red Cross at Misawa sponsored a 5k run, with more than 350 base residents participating despite the freezing weather and snow. More than 40 volunteers helped with set up, registration, traffic control and break down after the run. The station provided free, specially designed, t-shirts for the first 200 registered runners and the base commissary donated cases of oranges for the participants once they completed the run. Throughout the event, participants could be heard thanking the American Red Cross for remembering and sponsoring this event and for once again, being there.