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YATSUSHIRO BAY, Japan - Eight air department Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) played a critical role as part of Task Force Chenzai, the Japanese earthquake relief effort near Kumamoto, Japan, April 18-23.
The team joined forces with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer helicopter ship JS Hyuga (DDH 181) to train and support JMSDF members in conducting flight operations with MV-22 Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265.
Hyuga crew members were prepared for this training.
"They were already experts at landing, and chocking and chaining and launching the MH-60 (helicopter)," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Dike, a Bonhomme Richard flight deck officer. "The differences in landing the Osprey were a fairly easy transition for the Japanese flight deck personnel."
JMSDF sailors' attention to detail and exacting execution made for smoother training.
"We showed them one time, they picked it up and they did it perfectly," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Tyler Land.
Land was one of two chocks and chains airmen brought aboard Hyuga to help train Japanese flight deck personnel.
"I'm very impressed with their efforts," said Dike. "The BHR crew did an outstanding job. They were very professional and worked as a fantastic team with the Japanese."
"The crew of Hyuga is now prepared to not only land Ospreys on deck, but train other JMSDF personnel," said JMSDF Lt. Cmdr. Takeharu Sekine, operations chief and a 25th Flight Squadron pilot. "The U.S. crew was perfect in both instructing and being side by side with the Japanese crew."
Sekine expressed his gratitude for Bonhomme Richard's contribution to the JMSDF crew and recognized the historical impact of these Sailors' efforts.
"We are hoping to do similar operations with the Osprey," Sekine said in reference to Hyuga's participation in this year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
The Bonhomme Richard crew members recognize the importance this training has for the future of the U.S. alliance with the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
"I think looking at it years from now if I'm sitting at home and see the Hyuga landing a few Ospreys on the ship by themselves, I think it would be pretty cool that I was originally part of that crew that established and helped set up how they do it on this ship," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Connor Brady.